Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Kingdom of Heaven

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go into the land I will show you." Our God's words to Abram are just as powerful today as they were in ancient times. He calls a man out of his home, away from his people, away from his family, to create a new people. To create a new nation. To create a new culture. I believe that today our God is doing the same with His church. After all, the word 'church' means 'called out.' In the church era this call is echoed in Christ's prayer for His disciples, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it."

The Church is spoken of by Jesus as the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God. He talks about it as a kingdom - a nation. The Church is a nation without borders, whose only flag is Christ, and whose only king is Christ. We are among the nations, but we are not of them! I've begun this blog, not to dispute whether or not the church is the kingdom of heaven (read the words of Christ and decide for yourself), but to discuss what it is, culturally, that makes us unique. In a sense, you could say this is an opportunity to get in touch with our roots - to explore our heritage. Culturally speaking, what makes the church, the church.

Also, I would like to draw a distinction between the culture that is popularly portrayed as "christian" and that which truly comes from Christ. I want to create a forum where we can attain a language to more accurately describe what it is that makes us distinct from the rest of the world (if indeed we are any different from the world).

So, here is the first question for discussion: What are some observable differences between the culture of the church and any other culture of the world?


  1. This is one to ponder. Dear Daniel, I think that you are right in saying that in order to come to any conclusions about this particular question we must begin by coming to at least some reconciling consensus about who this "church" is in order to use it in a comparison. And the great thing is, that these defining thoughts might well be the greatest cultural distinctions as well. Also, to define church within the contextualization of "culture" we must define and find the various components of "culture" as well. Quite a task. Here is one small opening thought: I propose that one of the most defining features of a culture is its history and narrative, and this is something that the church certainly carries with great uniqueness: we are informed by our narrative of the life of Christ. While our exegesis and theological interpretation varies wildly, we can at least begin here. The church has a richly rooted narrative that is quite different than many other cultures and countries. We follow a distinct person that embodied the Divine (the amount depending upon your exegesis) so peculiarly that we are allured and compelled to shape our entire lives around his life roughly 2000 years later. We celebrate, lament, and create ritual that points us to God, many of which are informed by this Christ. We've done it so long that this may not sound peculiar, but it is beyond strange to the this world!

  2. I'll at least throw this out right off the bat...that just like Israel, Rome, China, the Philippines, Iraq, America...or any other nation that has at times brutally feared the Church... they are/were right! A Kingdom that has in it's core teaching: the embracing of complete unity under one King, the resolving of various cultural preferences and SOME practices within that as acceptable, and the rejection of a particular race, gender or status as having the original seed of this very Kingdom is too powerful to allow!!! Unless you actually want heaven on earth.

  3. To say that it must be a culture of love would be too easy and potentially too generic. So I guess I will say it this way: One of the main differences you should notice about me if I'm part of the culture of the church is that I strive to be submissive to my King. If I succeed in something, my whole being indicates it is totally to His credit and if I fail at something I am the first to confess it and rest in His leadership for healing. This type of sold-out love is the beating heart of a citizen of Christ's Kingdom, the church.

  4. As a missionary apprentice, I have had the stark kick-in-the-face revelation of the differences between cultures, and I'm only living in Mexico. Who knew one river divided so much? There are so many things that are different, from the food to the concept of time. There are, however, over-arching themes in every culture. The church, in contrast, goes against this in many ways.

    One thing that immediately came into my mind when I read the question is that the church thrives under persecution. One would assume that a culture would crumble under foreign and domestic threats and persecutions, but we see the exact opposite. And it has been going on and will keep going on.