Read Part 1 of this series on developing a Christian culture that results in human flourishing here.
The fact that Jesus rose from the dead proves that a new heaven and new earth inauguration already began. Jesus, as the first fruits, and His saints will follow at the climax and culmination of history and full manifestation of the new heavens and earth when our bodies are also resurrected in the last day (see 1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
The following realms of society were reframed at the resurrection because of the Lordship of Christ:
Acts 17:7; Jesus is the True Caesar:
“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
Since the church was spreading among the Gentiles (not merely limited to the Jews) Rome had a huge problem on their hands since their empire was held together politically with Caesar worship. Now thousands of people were proclaiming that there was another King who is Lord of everyone else, including Caesar. This is what eventuated in the violent reaction of Rome against the church.
The church functioned as a benefactor community for all people in their community; Titus 2:13,14;3:8:
“waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”
These two passages elucidate the fact that the early church saw themselves as a community of people called to serve and better their community. This reframed even the workplace and the purpose of wealth as each believer used their time, treasure, and talents to serve their city and extend the reign of Christ through a practical demonstration of His love.
Their leaders modeled a family unit in submission to Christ as the head. Read Ephesians 5 :21-33 and 1 Timothy 3:5, which gives as a primary qualification for church elders the call to be faithful to their families: “If a man cannot manage his own house how can he manage the house of God.”
Also, Ephesians 5 speaks about a husband loving his wife as Christ loved the church in the midst of a Roman/Greco culture that generally devalued women and used marriage only as a way to have children and perpetuate their family legacy (romance was often connected to arrangements outside the bounds of traditional marriage); hence, the command to love their wife connected both romance and sacrifice in the marriage which revolutionized Western Civilization.
They honored the Scriptures as the primary way of equipping and maturing the saints starting from childhood.
2 Timothy 3:16,17 says: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Scripture was used to catechize new believers and disciple their children (see also Deut. 6:6-9) which eventually became the impulse to create a “Grand Synthesis” that universities (starting in about the 11th century) utilized, in their attempt to orbit all truth and every discipline around theology and the study of the Bible.
The Apostle Paul challenged the wisdom of this world with the wisdom of God demonstrated in Jesus (see Paul before the Areopagus in Acts 17, in which he challenged Greek polytheism, idolatry, and quoted their famous poets to make a case for worshipping the One true God). Read 1 Cor. 1:17-24 to see how the Gospel of Jesus challenged the philosophy of the times.
In Colossians 2:8-10 Paul says:
“…..See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”
JESUS turned the religious world on its head when He challenged the dark powers of the false deities, worshipped in Roman/ Greco culture. As we see in Matthew 16:16-19, Jesus said He was building His church upon the rock that was next to the goat god “Pan” which was connected to the cave/pit called the gates of hell (where people were alleged to be thrown alive into the pit if they did not appease the goat god Pan in their immoral rituals and worship).
We also see Paul challenging polytheism and witchcraft in Acts chapters 14 and 19 in his Gospel messages.
Paul re-characterized art and poetry by renaming and reframing their statue to the unknown God and giving meaning to popular Greek poetry (see Acts 17).
A new genre of music was created for the gentile world!
Ephesians 5:18,19 says: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart”
Paul taught the church to make use of the Hebrew Psalms, as well as the creation of new hymns and spontaneous spiritual songs of the heart, which created a new genre of music for the Gentile world.
All of the above demonstrated that the church—as a new nation—was not focused merely on going to heaven but rather introduced a new vision for life on the earth related to family, politics, business, music, art, and philosophy as the “new man” (see Ephesians 2). The church was called to envision and walk out a new creation (see 2 Cor. 5:21) which began at the resurrection and ascension of the true King of kings and Lord of all—JESUS Christ.
As they modeled the Kingdom of God in their own subculture, they were able to export it to every aspect of the communal life of the city they were immersed in.
In light of this article, we need to ask ourselves some questions:
Do we embody and celebrate biblical values or the values of the secular humanistic Worldview?
Are we a disciple of Christ that integrates our faith in the workplace or merely a Sunday church attender?
Should churches empower disciples for the workplace or only the church place?
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The post Developing a Christian Culture that Results in Human Flourishing, Part 2 appeared first on Mattera Ministries International.
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