'More than These?'

The Kingdom Turn, Part 2

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” John 21.15

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The life we should love
In the book of Revelation those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ, who have truly made the Kingdom turn, are described as not loving their lives so much that they would not gladly die for their faith (Rev. 12.10, 11, especially in NASB).

The wellbeing of our lives is not threatened only by persecution, as in the book of Revelation. All kinds of situations can challenge us to consider whether we love this present life so much that the prospect of losing it can depress and destroy us.

'Lift Up Your Eyes!'

The Kingdom Turn, Part 1

“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” Jn. 4.35

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Forever changed
Sometime early in the year 1436, art and painting in the Western world changed dramatically and permanently.

Prior to 1436 artists in Europe depicted their subjects on a flat surface, without dimension. The colors were bright, the drawings were brilliant, and the themes were clear. But the paintings were flat. They didn’t “look like” people and scenes such as one might observe during the course of a day. Something was missing, and nobody understood quite what.

Guideline for a Culture of Love

The Purpose of Culture, Part 7

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7.12

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Full circle
Beyond simply confronting cultural abuse and misuse, Christians must make a conscientious effort to restore culture so that it serves as a means and end to the glory of God by demonstrating the love He intends all people to know.

All Christians are immersed in culture. As I have previously said, people are made for culture. We can’t escape it, and we can’t do without it. All the everyday things we use, the conversations we engage, the work we do, everything about our homes, manners, avocations, and interests – all this is culture, and we are engaged with it all our waking moments.

Confronting Unloving Culture, Part 2

The Purpose of Culture, Part 6

Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” Acts 23.1-3

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Sic ‘em!
I have to tell you, this is one of my favorite passages in the whole of Scripture.

Here is Paul, stung by an abuse of culture and a transgression of civility, laying into the highest religious official in Israel, complete with name-calling and threats of retribution from God.

Confronting Unloving Culture, Part 1

The Purpose of Culture, Part 5

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. Philippians 4.8

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Where cultural judgment must begin
These words of the Apostle Paul have a curiously cultural ring, don’t you think? True, noble, just, pure, lovely, commendable, virtuous, praiseworthy – these sound like terms we would use to extol the virtues of some book we’ve read, film we’ve seen, or performer we admire. These are the kinds of qualities we would like to see in our politicians and educators and culture-makers, because we believe that if they were more people like this, the culture they created and produced would be more like this, too, as would we who use that culture to define, sustain, and enrich our lives.

Culture as a Means to Love

The Purpose of Culture, Part 4

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all... 1 Thessalonians 3.12

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Some obvious examples
We have seen that the end of culture, the reason God has given gifts of culture to human beings, is so that His presence and character of love may be made known. The purpose of culture is to bring love for God and love for our neighbors into the light of day, unto the glory of God.

The Law and all the Word of God guide us in seeking to glorify God in every aspect of our lives, so that, whatever we’re doing or whomever we’re with, the outcome we seek is love, thus making the character of God known in personal and palpable ways.

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