A few years ago, I spoke to a gathering of pastors about engaging the cultural battles of the day. Afterward, the pastors had a lot of questions — but they were also a little confused. One confessed: “I’d never heard of the cultural commission, and will it interfere with fulfilling the Great Commission? Isn't that our job — to win people to Christ?"
That people still think this way left me momentarily speechless. "Of course we're called to fulfill the Great Commission," I replied. "We're also called to fulfill the cultural commission." Christians are agents of God's saving grace — bringing others to Christ. But we are also agents of His common grace: We're to sustain and renew His creation, defend the created institutions of family and society, and critique false worldviews.
I saw this was an “Aha!” moment for some of the pastors.
But the Scriptures are so clear. In Genesis, we're told that for five days, God created the universe. On the sixth day, He created human beings — and ordered them to pick up where He left off. They were to reflect His image and have dominion, but from then on, the development of the creation would be primarily social and cultural: It would be the work humans performed as they obeyed God's command to fill and subdue the earth.
The same command binds Christians today. We bear children, plant crops, build cities, form governments and create works of art. While sin corrupted God's created order, it did not obliterate it. And when we are redeemed, we are both freed from sin and restored to do what God designed us to do: create culture.
Remember, every part of creation came from God's hand, every part was drawn into the mutiny of humanity against God, and every part will someday be redeemed. This means we must care about all of life. In Colossians 1, Paul notes that "everything" was made by and for Christ, and that everything will be reconciled by Christ; it's clear that Christians are saved not only from something (sin) but also to something (Christ's lordship over all of life).
This is why Christians must never limit themselves to evangelism alone or to the "feel-good" church. We must not stand by while our culture is hijacked by alien philosophies hostile to the created order. Look at the issues before us: so called gay "marriage,” which is an oxymoron and will undermine the family; then there’s the creation of life in man's image, that is, cloning; abortion; and terrorism driven by religious extremists, and that’s just naming a few.
If Christians do not seize the moment and act on the cultural commission, there soon won’t be any culture left to save. But when we do our duty, we can change the world. Look at Christians like William Wilberforce, who spent most of his life fighting — and winning — the war against slavery in Britain, and bring about a great cultural renewal in that country.
Today on my “Two-Minute Warning,” which I urge you to view at ColsonCenter.org, I talk about a church that really gets it. It’s growing rapidly, and it’s fulfilling both commissions. It’s the Watermark (Community) Church in Dallas, Texas; the pastor Todd Wagner, a great leader. You can even read a copy of his stirring message to his congregation, which I hope you’ll give a copy of to your pastor. That’s today on the "Two-Minute Warning" at ColsonCenter.org. Don’t miss it.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media and print.
Publication date: November 30, 2011