Culture is group behavior. Simply put, perhaps an oversimplification for the basis of our discussion, behavior in the individual is culture in the group. Shared values and beliefs shape shared behaviors. What we believe has consequences. What we value orders our lives. In a culture, values and beliefs shared by the group influence and motivate behaviors. Consider the power of belief upon cultures where superstitions about pleases the gods dictate unique behaviors that can be life and death issues. What people believe has consequences. Consider the influence of religion upon a culture that believes their ancestors might be the rat that is eating their family’s food supply: where rats eat more than people and people go hungry, for example, because killing rats would be a breach of faith.
Culture has principles, shared by the people in the group and protocols that give guidance to how the group functions. Behind principles and protocols lies purpose.
The kingdom culture also has principles. Jesus says, “As you continue this journey we’ve been traveling on, disciple cultures. Define their relationship to God by baptism. Teach them what I’ve taught you. I’m there with you all the way.” When He says, “Teach them,” He refers to the culture of the kingdom He has been teaching His remnant leaders. That is behavior, personal and cultural. That means kingdom people can be marked by kingdom behaviors. They behave differently from people in the culture of this world, not so much to create a subculture as to confront and influence the culture toward kingdom culture.
Believer, stop behaving like a heathen!
This is not a matter of following a checklist of rules like church-anity has created, the “I don’t smoke and I don’t chew, and I don’t go with girls that do” mentality that has defined abstract concepts of “holiness.” The behavior of a kingdom citizen comes from his motivations, his passion for God’s purpose, principles, protocols, and priorities.
Purpose. Principles. Protocols. Priorities. Each affects the behavior of the saint because each is a here and now aspect of kingdom culture, of the behavior of the kingdom exhibited in the Ecclesia that functions to reinforce the culture of the kingdom.
The “follow the rule” mentality will produce a subculture in which people dressed properly on Sunday morning, who would never think about eating or drinking the wrong thing or playing the wrong game or visiting the wrong establishment can murder one another with gossip and cover up sexual sins as debasing as an Amsterdam brothel. The women wouldn’t think of appearing in public in pants but incest and sexual abuse gets covered up to maintain appearances of “holiness” in the subculture. They will kick you out for watching the wrong movie while slapping a pastor’s wrist for rape and pornography and return him to a pulpit to cover up the failure of their subculture to maintain the purity of kingdom principles.
They will be amazed that God would be upset about what He’s upset about while ignoring the issues they argue and debate for hours in their committee on special rules of personal conduct for members. From where comes this distortion? It comes because they are interested in a subculture based upon their distinctives instead of establishing the culture of the kingdom.
This is a warped conscience, a distorted awareness of right and wrong – yes, there is such a thing as right and wrong – a deformed consideration of appropriate and inappropriate in terms of kingdom protocols. They will murder a man on Friday but only eat fish when they go home for supper.
They won’t wear earrings but hold the phone to the same ear as it is filled with the raw sewage of gossip and rebellion against God’s leaders. They will hammer people for going to Disney but have a high-oh time of “fellowship” that embraces gluttony as an art form, die early from out of control behaviors but never touch root beer to avoid the appearance of evil.