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Kingdom of God vs. Culture

"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would have fought that I might not be delivered up to the Jews. But now My kingdom is not from here." (Joh 18:36)

Most Christians today equate Culture with the Bible, in some instances even putting it above the Word of God. But culture is generally evil and has NO part in the Kingdom of God as Jesus testifies above.

Definition of Culture

  • The system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning

  • The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. Patterns, traits, and products considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population.

  • The predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization with respect to a particular category, such as a field, subject, or mode of expression such as: religious culture in the Middle Ages; musical culture; oral culture.

  • Intellectual and artistic activity and the works produced by it.

  • In summary: The word culture, from the Latin colo, -ere, with its root meaning "to cultivate", generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. Different definitions of "culture" reflect different theoretical bases for understanding, or criteria for evaluating, human activity. Anthropologists most commonly use the term "culture" to refer to the universal human capacity to classify, codify and communicate their experiences symbolically.

As we can see clearly the definition is centred on humans and on human activities and there is no room for God.

Definition of Kingdom of God

  • The kingdom of Heaven (or the kingdom of God, basileia tou theou) is a key concept in both Judaism and Christianity. It refers to the reign or sovereignty of God over all things, as opposed to the reign of earthy powers (cultures).

  • The domain over which God is sovereign and where things are done perfectly according to His will.

  • The Biblical expression of God's dynamic rule of the universe, the values and qualities of which were most clearly manifested in the sayings and deeds of Jesus.

  • The term used to describe God's rule over the world through his power and the exercise of it. The term does not specifically refer to a time or place in history, but covers all times. Frequently in the gospels the use of the term suggests that the kingdom is external and in the future, although "close at hand." Jesus (in Mat 4:17) spoke of the kingdom as being "in your midst."

  • The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven seem to be variations of the same idea. A kingdom implies a king. Our king is Jesus. Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world (Joh 18:36). Jesus' authority did not come from man but from God (Luk 22:29). Entrance into the kingdom of God is by a new birth (Joh 3:5), repentance (Mat 3:2), and the divine call (1Th 2:12). We are told to seek the kingdom of God first (Mat 6:33) and to pray for its arrival (Mat 6:10). ...

  • God's righteous reign in the earth, mediated by His Son, Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God begins in the hearts of redeemed men (Col 1:13) and moves outward wherever men are subject to Christ's gospel and law. The kingdom of God is not pre-eminently political, though it has implications for politics. Wherever Christ's gospel breaks the stony heart of sinful man, bringing him to his knees in submission to Jesus Christ, there is the kingdom of God.

In brief The Kingdom of God is that place where those who belong to it worship, obey and love God, most willingly, and every single thing exists in terms of Him and for His pleasure.

This is not to say that God is not sovereign elsewhere, for He has TOTAL Sovereignty over the whole of His creation, God is sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and the ruler over all of His creation, but in His Kingdom (Heaven) all is done perfectly according to His will.

References:

Kingdom of God (Mat 6:33; Mar 1:14,15; Luk 4:43)

Kingdom of Christ (Mat 13:41; 20:21)

Kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph 5:5)

Kingdom of David (Mar 11:10)

the Kingdom (Mat 8:12; 13:19)

Kingdom of heaven (Mat 3:2; 4:17; 13:41)

This is in stark contract to human culture where hardly anything (if any) is done according to His rules and commands. Jesus Himself asked His Apostles to pray apropos: "And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth." (Luk 11:2)

Jesus did not ask his followers to follow the Judaic, Hellenistic or Roman culture. In fact, He was often criticized for not doing what people of those cultures expected. That is; to adapt to those cultures above the Word of God as Christians do today. His allegiance was to the Kingdom of God; a kingdom not bound by any human culture. That Kingdom has a godly "culture" of its own, that the cultures of this world do not share. For example, the Kingdom of God values sacrifice to the point of death, and reconciliation with God through Jesus’s death and resurrection. These are values that are considered foolishness by those who are not part of God’s Kingdom.

The culture of the Kingdom of God is the one culture to which all Christians belong but not all do necessarily practice it on this earth, indeed the tendency is to rather follow the cultures of this world. Paul says: "All who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile …..." (Gal 3:27-28) Culture should no longer be a divide for the followers of Christ, for they now belong to a higher unique "culture", the one of Heaven, but if they continue to cling (and they do) to their particular natural wordily culture there will always be divisions between believers, and there are.

Even though we remain Christians in this world, we will always know at least two cultures: the one of our country of our natural birth, and the one of our spiritual birth – God’s kingdom. But the natural culture should be submitted to the spiritual one and eventually should fade into insignificance once we have been translated to the "culture" of Heaven. But it is mostly, not so.

Who makes cultures on this world? Well humans do, but the intent of their heart is always evil: "The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Gen 6:5)

And as our Lord said very plainly "17 So every good tree produces good fruits, but the corrupt tree produces evil fruits. 18 A good tree cannot produce evil fruits, nor a corrupt tree produce good fruits." (Mat 7:17-18) Now if every intention of man’s heart is evil continually, how can what man produce (i.e. culture) be good? This is impossible, according to Jesus.

Let us take our own western culture, what has it produced? All sorts of evils: Abortion, Divorces, Feminism, Decadence, Democracy, Destruction of the family, Lowering of moral standards, indeed culture is as Scripture says: "1 ¶ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (2Ti 3:1-5)

Realising the evil of cultures, how can we Christians cling, defend and even fully live the ways of the world if we belong to a higher ‘culture’? What to say about the state of our hearts? Can we serve both God and Mammon?? "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Mat 6:24) (And Mammon does not only means money but also the things of this world as opposed to God) No, no one can serve two masters, we can either serve God or the way of the world (culture), and this dichotomy of mind is VERY offensive to the Lord: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1Jo 2:15) In Rev 3:16 we see that those that are lukewarm towards the Lord, with a divided loyalty, He will vomit them out.

Things have gone so decadent that the teaching in many churches is that the Bible must be interpreted according to culture, in other words for them culture is above the Word of God and things in the Bible that are contrary to the tenets of culture are not to be taken seriously and indeed even rejected. This is how far our culture has influenced the church into spiritual corruption. But what saith scripture!: "16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works." (2Ti 3:16-17)

Ah! Well, they say, this is one of those verses that must be done away with, for they are not relevant to our culture. My question then is: "are you doing to do the same with the words of Christ?" For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Mat 5:18)

One famous woman televangelist was shown passages where it states that a woman should not wear short hair, pants or behave like a man and above all should not preach for God has called man to do that, her answer was along this line: "I do not believe that, for these things have been surpassed in our culture." Chances are that this woman is a feminist if not also a lesbian. This is what culture has brought to this world, that culture is above the plain teaching of Scripture.

Our focus should be upon the Father's will, and walking in His righteousness not upon our own. Those who claim to be part of the Kingdom of God and yet live for themselves according to culture, giving authority to our self and our feelings will never enter into it. If we in any way attempt to define the Kingdom of God in terms of our culture, viz.: self-preservation, worldly success and prosperity concepts, personal comfort and glorification, or any other standard based in our feelings and self, as culture commands, we are in error.

God's Kingdom is defined in terms of eternal life, not worldly, materialistic and personal comfort standards, as culture does. The problem we all have in coming to the Father through Jesus Christ is a self-problem. It is seeking our self, which leads us into sin. It is pursuing the cultural worldly values, which accommodate self-life, which are the source of destruction. An elder in my church when shown this verse: “And he said, Therefore said I to you, that no man can come to me, except it were given to him of my Father.” (Joh 6:65)  said to me: "if I had known that it was God that was drawing (Joh 6:44)  me to Him, I would not have gone,"  

Is there such thing in culture as the repentance from self-life and worldly values and cultural expectations? NO, and thus those who put culture on a pedestal cannot enter into eternal life. Those that enter the Kingdom of God do repent and follow Jesus, walking in the Father's righteousness and obeying His will on earth as it is in heaven.

When Jesus says we are to hate our own life in this world, He is calling us to repent from being anything like this world (culture), including the expectations of our human relatives (more culture), and to turn and be like our heavenly Father. We are to manifest His character and be wholly dependent upon Him, and wholly loyal to Him: we are to do His will on earth as it is done in Heaven, NOT what culture dictates. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luk 14:26) We are to be separated from culture.

Finally

To enter the Kingdom of God we must surrender to the Lord and die to self-life and submit to the cleansing by the Blood of Christ from the indoctrination of this world, its evil culture and cultural expectations and values, through abiding in Jesus' Words and living according to them.

"If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love." (Joh 15:10)

Little children, do not be hoodwinked by this wordily culture.