Everyday Culture (1)
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
For many of us, perhaps, “culture” sounds rather far off and aloof. When we think of “culture” it’s usually the art museum, the symphony, fashion, or some other kind of “high brow” diversion that comes to mind. Of course, we recognize the existence of a very large and variegated “pop culture” – music, TV, film, sports, and so forth – but we don’t really think of that as culture, not in the sense that art or poetry or fine music is culture, at any rate.
But “culture” is nothing more or less than whatever human beings produce in order to define, sustain, and enrich their lives. This includes all kinds of artifacts, institutions, and conventions with which we are all inextricably and inescapably involved, every day of our lives. Culture is all around us, in all we do, even down to the habits, routines, and details of our everyday lives. Human beings are creatures of culture, and in culture – all of culture – as in all else, God calls us to honor and glorify Him.
We could not escape culture if we tried, and if we did, we would be hard pressed to survive. To be human is to have culture, and to be Christian is to see culture as a means for bringing glory to God.
Culture consists of artifacts – clothing, furniture, utensils, computers, automobiles, buildings – and institutions – laws, universities, the media, churches – as well as conventions – holidays, holding the door for ladies, using “please and thank you”, and so forth. All these things are created by human beings for the purpose of making our lives richer, fuller, and more convenient and enjoyable. We cannot get along without culture. Indeed, there has never been a society of human beings, be it ever so remote or primitive, that has not invented artifacts, institutions, and conventions of various kinds to define itself and to sustain and enrich the way of life of its members.
We are beings who make and use culture because we are made in the image of God, and He is a Maker of things and institutions and conventions as well. And God has made us, as creatures of culture, to bring glory and honor to Him in all our cultural activities and endeavors. Indeed, culture can be a powerful vehicle for calling attention to God and for holding Him up in all His glory for others to consider. We know this is true of such cultural forms as painting, music, preaching, and worship; but what about those everyday activities that lead us all to engage actively and continuously in culture – things like eating and drinking?
Yes, the Lord would have us to believe that here – indeed, especially here – there are opportunities aplenty to exalt and honor and glorify His holy Name. It may seem strange or unlikely, but in the everyday cultural activities – including those we share in common with unbelievers – it is possible for us to demonstrate our Kingdom convictions and advance the Kingdom purposes of Jesus Christ. This doesn’t happen automatically, of course. Indeed, much about everyday culture militates against our engaging this realm for the purposes of Christ and His Kingdom. We’ll need to prepare carefully and continually if we hope to make progress in this high calling.
But “whatever you do” means just that – whatever you do! God intends to get glory in and through us, to make His beauty, majesty, goodness, wisdom, power, and love known to the world (Hab. 2:14). And the ways we make and use culture, especially everyday culture, can play a large role in helping us to fulfill this calling.
In your thinking, what kinds of things fall under the heading of “everyday culture”? Ask some Christian friends to help you compile a list. Then talk about whether or not it’s really possible to glorify God through such things.
This week’s series, Everyday Culture, is available in a free downloadable format, suitable for group study.
For more insight to this topic, get the book, Redeeming the Routines: Bringing Theology to Life, by Robert Banks, from our online store. Or read the article, “Everyday Culture to the Glory of God,” by T. M. Moore.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.