“And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed … The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
God calls his people to be creators of culture … to be catalysts and leaders in society and its institutions. Unfortunately, the Christian community is not known for creating culture. Rather, we are more known as consumers, copiers, and critics of American society. When it comes to culture, we tend to complain more than create.
It should not be this way. God crafted man in his image, and that means we are designed and commissioned to be creators. In fact, it is accurate to say we are designed to be co-creators with God.
I want to be exceptionally clear about this, so I am going to repeat. It is our divine purpose to be creators. The Lord created and designed us to plan and produce, to design and build, to envision and establish, and thereby to “have dominion” on planet earth. In the process of having dominion, one of the most important things we are called to create is culture. As I wrote two weeks ago, culture — and the ideas and institutions that shape it — are the social architecture of the world God has created.
However, the Fall distorted and disrupted the divine purpose. Rather than create cultures and societies that reflect God’s kingdom and character, man created cultures and societies that reflect self-centered objectives and distorted standards. Because of the Fall, man created culture that produced great beauty, but also great ugliness … that produced acts of kindness, but also acts of cruelty … that produced order and stability, but also disorder and chaos. Man created culture that reflected some truth and much error.
The good news is that Christ has come to reconcile us to God, redeem us from the brokenness of sin, and re-establish his people as a community of culture-builders. The bad news is that we are struggling to fulfill that mission. We are in desperate need of a movement of the Spirit to restore the people of God as agents of the kingdom, not just in our private lives and churches, but in society.
Let’s step back for a moment and consider again what culture is and why it is so important. Not surprisingly, Genesis provides insight. A helpful definition of culture is “what human beings make of the world.” God created planet earth, and then he created and placed man on the planet to make something of it. This is what Genesis means when it says “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
Because of the Fall, making something of the world is not easy work. It is especially challenging and difficult to make something beautiful in the midst of brokenness and in the face of opposition from the Adversary. Yet that is precisely what the Lord calls us to do.
We are called to create.
We are called to envision, plan, and produce things that make the world more effective and productive, as well as more beautiful and enjoyable. Because the culture-shaping institutions of society are both necessary and powerful, we are called to develop and build institutions that support a healthy, productive, and fair society.
We are called to cultivate and protect.
We are called to tend and nourish what is worthy and admirable in human society, and do the hard and painstaking work of preserving and protecting the best of what people before us have done.
We are called to collaborate.
The work of culture-building cannot be done alone or in isolation; we must work together to create and cultivate culture. Indeed, “collaborate” means co (with) + labor (do work). We are called to work with each other to build culture, and we are called to work with God to build culture. Fellowship with God and fellowship with each other is essential to the mission.
“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor 3.7-9)
We are not to be passive recipients of culture; we are to be active builders. We are called to build culture in our families, our churches, in the organizations where we work, and in our society.
Why? Because culture shapes what people believe and how they behave. Worldview and culture are nearly synonymous. A worldview (culture) is a powerful thing, because it is the lens through which a person or society (organization or team) sees and responds to the every day things of life.
This is why exceptional leaders in business, athletics, and ministry pay uncommon attention to culture. It is what we call The Performance Pathway, and it reflects the physics of the world that God has created.
Leaders > Culture > Behavior > Results
Leaders create the culture that drives the behavior that produces results.
Again, this is the social architecture of the world that God has created. It is not random or accidental, as the proponents of Darwinian evolution would have us believe. It is purposeful design and intentional structure, created by the one true Architect.
We are in desperate need of godly leaders who will create an effective national culture that encourages and energizes healthy and productive behavior that produces positive results.
We must do the work.