What definition comes to your mind when you hear the word culture? If you are like many, you probably would think of a person who is an expert in literature or the arts. Others might consider this term as descriptive of any human society, whether past or present. However, Josef Pieper warns us in his book, “Leisure: the Basis of Culture,” that unless we take time to withdraw from culture to reflect upon it, so as to reconstruct, revise, or refine it; we will surely destroy it and ourselves.
In other words, hectic lives that rarely slow down to rest, reflect, repent, and reform; will neither preserve the past, nor correctly rebuild for the future. Properly defined, the word culture is derived from the Latin word “cultura” which means, “to plow or till.” Thus, we speak of agri-culture, which is the care of the soil to grow crops. This word is also closely related to the Latin “cultus,” which has the meaning of worship, adoration, or religious veneration.
Therefore, the Bible describes a godly person as one who regularly is plowing up the fallow ground of his soul, “Sow for yourselves rightousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12; cf. Jeremiah 4:3; Hebrews 6:7).
Further, the Christian individually and the Church collectively, are both responsible to constantly be in the process of re-making their modern societal culture through living and preaching the gospel, “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16; cf. 2 Timothy 4:2-5). We are also to constantly be re-making our individual family cultures. Fathers, especially, must create a climate, an atmosphere, an environment, or culture that is conducive toward “culto familiar” (Portuguese for “family worship”).
And last, this is no less true for our own “church” cultures. Where Paul reminds us, “…to walk in a manner worthy of (your) calling … bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Ken Sande captures the spirit of this “church” culture, with the following words, “A church has a culture of peace when its people are eager and able to resolve conflict and reconcile relationships in ways that clearly reflect the love and power of Jesus Christ.” So, frequent leisure will produce necessary reform which will lead to healthy restoration.
Dear friends, this July 4th, our nation needs to recover this type of thinking, and the “visible” evangelical church within it, especially so! O that God would cause us to hear Moses’ exhortation to begin building a “culture of peace” in our own homes, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
In conclusion, let us draw near to God, first, by taking heed to our heart preparation today, for encountering the living God tomorrow, in our public Worship service, both through our praises and prayers to Him, with God’s people; and secondly, through our attending to the reading and preaching of His Holy, inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word! Soli Deo Gloria! Happy Reformation Year 500!!
Jerry Marcellino is pastor of Audubon Drive Bible Church in Laurel. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.