Reclaiming Occupied Territory

Some weeks ago I spoke to a gathering of pastors about engaging the cultural battles of the day. Afterward, the pastors had a lot of questions -- but they were also a bit confused. One asked: "But won't engaging the culture this way interfere with fulfilling the Great Commission? Isn't this our job -- to win people to Christ?" That people still think this way left me momentarily speechless. "Of course we're called to fulfill the Great Commission," I replied. "But we're also called to fulfill the cultural commission." Christians are agents of God's saving grace -- bringing others to Christ, I explained. But we are also agents of His common grace: We're to sustain and renew His creation, defend the created institutions of family and society, and critique false worldviews. As I spoke, I saw the pastors' eyes light up in a great "Aha!" moment. This is a matter on which the Scriptures are very clear. In Genesis, we're told that for five days, God created the universe. On the sixth day, He created human beings -- and ordered them to pick up where He left off. They were to reflect His image and have dominion -- but from then on, the development of the creation would be primarily social and cultural: It would be the work humans performed as they obeyed God's command to fill and subdue the earth. The same command binds Christians today. We bear children, plant crops, build cities, form governments, and create works of art. While sin corrupted God's created order, it did not obliterate it. And when we are redeemed, we are both freed from sin and restored to do what God designed us to do: create culture. Remember, every part of creation came from God's hand, every part was drawn into the mutiny of humanity against God, and every part will someday be redeemed. This means we must care about all of life. In Colossians 1, Paul notes that "everything" was made by and for Christ, and that everything will be reconciled by Christ; it's clear that Christians are saved not only from something (sin) but also to something (Christ's lordship over all of life). This is why Christians must never limit themselves to evangelism alone or to the "feel good" church. We must not stand by while our culture is hijacked by alien philosophies hostile to the created order. Look at the issues before us: gay "marriage" -- an oxymoron which will undermine the family; the creation of life in man's image, that is, cloning; abortion; and terrorism driven by religious extremists, to name just a few. If Christians do not seize the moment and act on the cultural commission, there soon will be no culture left to save. But when we do our duty, we can change the world. Look at Christians like William Wilberforce, who spent most of his life fighting -- and winning -- the war against slavery in Britain. We need to do the same thing. It means voting wisely, contending for truth, and helping redeem our neighbors and our neighborhood. Yes, Christians must evangelize the world. But each of us must also work out our role in the common grace in our own lives, glorifying God by helping restore His creation. In so doing, we will bring the majesty of God and His righteousness to bear against the crumbling structures of a fallen society.
For Further Reading and Information
Sheryl Henderson Blunt, "Bush Calls for 'Culture Change'," Christianity Today, 28 May 2004. BreakPoint WorldView magazine includes articles and commentaries that offer a Christian view of many different topics, from education and the arts to the environment and human rights. Subscribe today and give a gift subscription.


Chuck Colson



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