I Choose Kingdom Over Culture
In the world we live in, we often find ourselves dealing with division. We can get caught up in choosing sides, whether it’s a political party, an identity group, or simply friends that are on opposing sides in an argument. Take this as encouragement: we are not the first generation to deal with these issues – oh, far from it. One of the greatest strategies of our spiritual enemy is to bring division. Let’s take a look at a time when the apostle Paul is addressing some of the division and discord that was happening at the church of Corinth. In Corinthians 1:10-13 (MSG/NIV) it explains: “I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other…That there would be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—that you’re fighting among yourselves! I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: You’re all picking sides, going around saying, ‘I’m on Paul’s side,’ or ‘I’m for Apollos,’ or ‘Peter is my man,’ or ‘I’m in the Messiah group.’ Is Christ divided?” The culture is always going to try to sow discord and destruction, but we don’t have to let them divide us.
We have to choose the kingdom over the culture we’re in. Let’s define these two words so that we have a clear picture:
- Kingdom: God’s people, under God’s rule, living by God’s laws, united as one family.
- Culture: people, under man’s rule, following man made laws, divided amongst themselves.
Three Ways the World Tries to Get Us to Choose Culture Instead of God’s Kingdom:
- Choose a side. The world tries to get us to choose a side, in an us-against-them or you-against-me fashion. It sows division instead of unity among brothers and sisters, and it can cause so many unnecessary issues. Culture will try to tear us apart, and we cannot let that happen. The Pharisees (religious leaders of the day) tried to trap Jesus into siding with either the Jews or the Romans by asking him whether or not the Jews should pay Roman taxes. Mark 12:16-17 (NIV) says: “They brought the coin, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ And they were amazed at him.” Jesus didn’t fall into the division that they were trying to trap Him in. God is over everything in our lives, but sometimes we focus and divide over the smallest things. Instead of finding our identity in the boxes and groups the world tries to place us and divide us into, we need to ask ourselves where our identity should come from.
Ask yourself this: Will my identity come from God or from the world? W.C. Fields said, “It’s not what they call you; it’s what you answer to.” It doesn’t matter what the world thinks of you and it doesn’t matter what the world calls you. It matters what you answer to and who you are, and you are a child of God. Your identity is in who He is and who He says you are, not in what others think of you.
- Compromise God’s standard. It is easy to fall into the trap of arguing with those who disagree with us or with those who antagonize us, but our standards need to be God’s standard not the culture’s standards. James 4:1 (TPT) asks: “What is the cause of your conflicts and quarrels with each other? Doesn’t the battle begin inside of you as you fight to have your own way and fulfill your own desires?” It feels good when we argue and we know that we’re right (or at least we think we are), but when we take the path that is less than kingdom standards, we fail to be the example we are meant to be.
It is important to reflect and ask: Will I set the culture or reflect the culture? The culture will do its best to suck us in and erode our kingdom standards, but we cannot allow it to succeed. We are meant to be a unifying light rather than the division-sowing culture we live in.
- Conform to its pattern. Along similar lines, we cannot allow the culture to shove us into its detrimental patterns. Romans 12:2 (MSG) says: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well- formed maturity in you.”
Will I change the world, or will the world change me? This is a scary question because we all have felt ourselves bending to the pressure that the world puts on us. Sometimes it’s in little ways that we don’t always notice, so it is incredibly important that we keep this question in the forefront of our hearts and minds.
Choosing God’s Kingdom Over the World’s Culture
As believers, we have to decide to find our identity in Christ and not the world, that we will set the culture and not fall into it, and we have to make the choice to change the world rather than let it change us. It is a conscious choice, and one that we have to make every day when we are faced with the world’s culture. While we cannot avoid the pushback that arises when culture comes up against the kingdom, we can consciously and intentionally choose kingdom over culture in our walk with Christ.