Our efforts in policy, technology, the arts, religion, medicine, and athletics are (theoretically) focused on creating an environment which facilitates the vibrant physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth of its inhabitants. Culture is the manifestation of these efforts.
That is a fantastic definition of “culture,” though I would include “business” among the things we make efforts towards that contribute to culture. Elsewhere in the devotional the author analogizes the creation of culture efforts at agriculture. You know, nothing we do makes plants grow, all we can do is create the best conditions for the plants to do what they do, which is grow.
As I ruminate on that I think about the posts I wrote on Thursday and Friday. In those posts I was working to point out that our obviously errant culture is primarily focused on self. In recent times, when we make demands for cultural change we seem to be asking it for things that make life better for me – regardless of whether it really is better or what effect it may have on others around me. That’s what I like about that definition, it emphasizes that there are many different aspects to life that need cultivation, not just finance or sexuality, and it focuses on everybody – not just select individuals or groups.
Think about what are likely the two most oft-quoted verses of scripture. John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
It has become common, because we are so often pursuing the individual convert, to point out to people that when it says “the world” it really means “you.” But it really does say “the world.” God’s intent is that everyone in the world get what Jesus gives, even if it is one person at a time. And then the other verse, John 10:10:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Now, based on reading John 3:16, that what Christ offers is for everybody, then the abundant life He offers in John 10:10 is for everybody. That means the church is supposed to be about building culture, since as we defined it, culture is what allows everybody to flourish. That is to say allows everyone to live abundantly. Further since it is for eveybody, then we have to build more than a church culture, we have to build culture generally. Which makes me wonder about some of the conclusions drawn in this Joel Kotkin piece. I do not want to pick on the piece too hard, the diagnosis is excellent, but the proposed treatements are, I think, too narrow. But it is Sunday morning and I do not want to get bogged down in all sorts of academic discussion.
Rather this morning, I think we should ask what we are doing to make culture better for everyone. Let’s lay that at God’s feet this morning.