Mt Soledad
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Christian Citizenship Council
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“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

“Our Cultural Mandate - Part I ”

As evangelical Christians, we have a heart for the unsaved, those who do not know the love of Christ or their need for a Redeemer.  We have a Biblical calling to share the gospel with those that otherwise would face an eternity of punishment because of their own sin.  This privilege is referred to as the Great Commission, and is most clearly found in Matt 29:18-20.  Many other Biblical references bolster this command to share the gospel to a dying world (Mark 13:10; Luke 24:46-47; Rom 10:14-17) while the very essence of our faith is to share it with others for their present and eternal good.

What’s not so obvious is the Biblical basis for our “cultural mandate” as Christians.  By cultural mandate, I’m referring not just to the living out, but also to the application of a Biblical worldview to all of life.  Obviously, this applies to our personal example, our families, and the variety of ministries we pursue within our church and our community.  However, it also includes the influence we’re to have on all legitimate human endeavors, including community projects, our schools, government, media, the arts and sciences, sports, jobs and careers, and yes, even politics.

The origin of this mandate is from the very beginning – Genesis 1:28, where mankind is called to be fruitful, to multiply, to fill and subdue the earth, and to exercise dominion over it.  Unfortunately, the fall of man has resulted in his sin corrupting virtually every aspect of this high calling.  Without God’s special revelation (the Bible), the understanding that comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit, and God’s common grace, this mandate would have no hope of being implemented for the common good.

Now, are there explicit Biblical commands concerning our responsibility to influence all aspects of society, culture and government?  Christians may differ, but I believe there are at least three ways the Bible does this.  Old Testament Israel provides an example of God’s perfect law infused into a nation where He Himself dwelt.  Israel was established as a theocracy – a nation directly ruled by the Lord.  God used that nation and the Jewish people to bring forth the promised Messiah. However, the need for a theocracy ended with the coming of Christ.  For Christians, our eternal citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20).  We’re a community of believers belonging to a holy nation independent of national borders (1 Peter 2:9).  To apply Old Testament civil and moral laws one-for-one to our day would be unwise, since we don’t live in a theocracy, nor will we until our Lord returns.  But we can adapt and apply those laws, seasoned with wisdom, in our country for the common good. This is the blessing of the American experiment – the infusion of Biblical principles and Judeo-Christian value system into our institutions of government and justice.  It’s the basis for our rights, liberties, and a compassion for the less fortunate that’s virtually unheard of in history.

Principles relating to our cultural mandate also appear in the lives of Biblical saints that faced difficulties under pagan regimes.  They were civil servants, soldiers, tax collectors, advisors to kings and the like.  Much can be learned from these examples, realizing God’s truths are eternal and His people bring Him glory by obedience to His will in every profession.

Finally, there are Bible verses clearly showing our responsibility to positively influence the culture and institutions around us.  This is no surprise, since God knows what’s best for mankind.  Whether it’s our “Salt and Light” responsibility (Matt 5:13-14), or how we’re to treat our neighbors (Matt 22:39) and enemies (Matt 5:43-44), God’s word is the standard.  Whether we’re to expose evil or not (Eph 5:11), submit to authority (Rom 13:1-4), pay taxes (Rom 13:6-7), implement environmentally sound policies (remember Gen 1:28!), or be good stewards of animals (Prov 12:10), our influence everywhere is to be for good, and God’s glory. 

Will our cultural mandate sit well with non-Christians, or even Christians that don’t see a need to get involved in the world around us?   Whether it does or not, our calling is clear, we’re to be a blessing to the world.  The benefits could be immense, but the greatest benefit will be the demonstration of the relevancy of God’s word to all of life, and the opportunity this will provide us to share the gospel even more powerfully.

In future articles I will outline more specifically the Biblical basis for our cultural mandate.  Will there be differences of opinion – of course.  But remember Prov 27:17 as we travel this road together.

Frank Kacer
Executive Director, Christian Citizenship Council of San Diego

First published as a Guest Commentary in the April 2007 issue of Good News Etc.