I travel a lot.
I'm always thankful to return home in Philadelphia, but one of the blessings of my ministry has been the opportunity to visit dozens of countries and experience many cultures.
In fact, I'm currently in Hong Kong, speaking to thousands of Chinese and other Asian and U.S. believers. Please keep me and the growing global church in your prayers this week!
Whenever I land in a new country, I'm quick to ask my host about the culture. I want to be aware of any customs, and I also want to modify my teaching so that it's relevant to the culture of the listening audience.
Typically, we assume that culture is shaped by yesterday's traditions and today's celebrities. It's true that the past and the powerful have significant influence over society.
But you and I also create culture in our everyday living. The question is: what type of culture are we building?
To be clear, I'm not talking about ethnic culture or family tradition. These are important, and diversity is part of God's beautiful design. What I'm talking about is the culture of the Kingdom of God and the culture of the kingdom of self.
Without even knowing it, we're always building some kind of culture, and we're always pressing the rules and values of that culture onto others.
If you're a spouse or a parent... you'll have countless opportunities each day to shape a Kingdom of God culture of love, forgiveness, intimacy and unity. But many times, we allow the kingdom of self to shape our words and actions in the home, and that can produce a culture of guilt, manipulation, fear and distance.
If you're a coworker, a student, a teammate, or in some other group setting... you'll have influence to develop a culture of encouragement, honesty and positivity. At the same time, you'll be tempted by selfish motives, which is fertile ground for a culture of jealously, bitterness and ungodly rivalry.
If you're a neighbor, a coach, or a community volunteer... God will open doors for you to build a gospel-centered culture of service, generosity and hospitality. Will you walk through them, or will you be too busy building your own kingdom of self to notice?
I wish I could say to you that I was always excited about building a Kingdom of God culture in my home, with my team, and in my neighborhood. But more often than I would like to confess, my fickle heart tempts me to live for something much less.
That's why I love to read the words from Colossians 1:13-14 - "God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
The Cross of Jesus paid the penalty for every moment when we foolishly choose the culture of the kingdom of self. Not only that, but it smashes the dominant power of sin over us so we have the ability and desire to choose the culture of the Kingdom of God.
This week, by God's grace, let's contribute to an eternal culture!
- Think of one simple way that you can contribute to the Kingdom of God culture within your family.
- Think of one simple way that you can contribute to the Kingdom of God culture with your social network (work, team, school, etc).
- Think of one simple way that you can contribute to the Kingdom of God culture within your neighborhood.
- Look at your three answers. Identify how your selfish motives may interfere and tempt you to live for something much less.