Boast In Christ

Living Out The Kingdom Culture We See In The Bible

One of the biggest shifts in my thinking around the Bible has come from this idea of culture. Culture is a word that probably seems like a buzzword now to many because of how overused it is. Everything seems to be about culture now, and I know, specifically in white evangelical circles, people hate talking about it. Culture is misunderstood when you grow up, never thinking about it, whereas others tend to only think about culture. What matters more than anything is understanding culture so we can live out Kingdom culture as Christians. In this article, I want to break down culture and how Kingdom culture is really all over scripture, but we can’t see that until we understand what culture is.

Understanding Culture vs Kingdom Culture

I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, it is considered to be one of the most diverse cities in the world. In Toronto, you are used to being confronted with different cultures from day one. My parents are from the Caribbean, but I was used to being around a lot of Indian, Chinese, and many other nations. The problem with culture is it’s like being a fish in water that does not know it’s in water. It’s not until the fish is put into an environment without water that it understands what water is. I thought it was normal to be around people who were used to being around other cultures.

I earned a track scholarship to Iowa State, and my world got flipped upside down. I realized how many people grow up around one culture. People would regularly ask me questions like whether they had electricity in Canada and whether they slept in an Igloo growing up. It was shocking, but even more shocking was how unaware and disrespectful people could be to anything that was culturally different. They did not know what to do with it, so they would just shut it down. The message I was sent is if you do anything different than me, it’s because you are wrong in some way. This should make you ask, what is culture?

The first thing you need to understand is that it cannot be escaped. Every family, church, business, organization, school, team, and club has a culture. It’s why Iowa State is nothing like Harvard. The two schools have vastly different cultures. It’s why people in New York are different from people from LA, who are also different from those in Hawaii.

Here are The 7 Elements of Culture

  1. Social Organization – How people are ranked and how families function
  2. Language – The same language often points to a similar culture
  3. Customs and Traditions – Rules for behavior, food, clothing, shelter, and transportation
  4. Religion – Huge source of conflict between cultures because it answers major questions of life
  5. Arts and Literature – Music, stories, etc.
  6. Forms of Government – How common needs are met and how people are put into power
  7. Economic systems – How people use their money, talents, and goods

A lot more can be said about the list above. But these are the basics, and when you look at this, you see how every person born into this world has some culture. The deeper question for the Christian to chew on is, does the Bible speak into each of these seven categories? You better believe that it does.

The Ugly Side of Culture in The American Church

In 2020, after George Floyd happened and race was the thing everyone was talking about, I had an interesting meeting with the connection group I left. I had a group with people from Haiti, The Bahamas, Canada, The South, and African countries. I asked a question about culture, and I realized that everyone outside the USA could answer, and non-white people from the USA could also answer. White people had nothing to say!

I dug deeper into this, and many white people, including my wife, never thought about culture. They didn’t really have a culture! This is some crazy stuff because what you’re really saying is you don’t think you have any social organization or any economic systems that influence what you do. The reality is that no one would say those seven elements didn’t matter, so what was really happening? What was happening is that people assumed that the way they lived and grew up was the right and only way.

American churches have adopted this same way of thinking. But it’s even worse because most of the American church is backed up with scripture. Not only are most Americans ready to defend their way, but they can throw a verse from the Bible at you to prove it, too. But it gets confusing because it’s like, wait, did Jesus die for everyone or for only America? Most people know the answer to that question is that Jesus died for all. So then, did Jesus die for everyone so they could be Americans? Again, I think the church will say no with their mouths and yes with their actions.

The American church has tied itself to politics and culture but then tries very hard to say that the only thing that matters is the Bible. It works for people here who are blind to culture, but when people come from another culture, they catch it right away.

All I Want is a Bible-Preaching Church

You have probably heard this from Christians before. It’s a good thing to want because the word of God is of the most value. Here is the problem: There is really more to the story. What people want is Bible Preaching in a culture that is comfortable. You can have someone preach the exact same sermon in a different context with a different style of preaching and different worship music, and all of a sudden, someone will say it’s unbiblical. The truth is that it’s not unbiblical, but it’s just outside of your comfort zone.

When Christianity is so closely tied to American culture, the downside is that people feel like they can’t be separated, but this ends up being a horrible witness to others not from the culture. For example, let’s say you sense God working in your life at church, and you get excited and scream out AMEN! Some people will be offended by that because that is not the culture they are used to. They expect you to be silent in church because that is what they are used to. The question they are asking is not, was the Bible preached? They look at cultural differences.

What is Kingdom Culture?

All of the scripture points to this culture.

There are some key places in the Bible where we see this Kingdom Culture, though all of the scripture points towards the King and his reign over the Kingdom.

Geneses 1 + 2

In the beginning, we see what God intended for his creation to live like. This is the Goal of the Kingdom when the King is reigning, and the people are following the King. We see a perfect creation, but we also see that it’s not complete. There is work to do, but it’s not how we see work now. The work makes us like our creator, who also worked when he created the heavens and the earth.

Man has everything he needs here, and there is no worry, brokenness, or problems. Everything works as it should, and there is peace. Man has the food he needs to eat and the woman he needs for the community with her and with God. All is good in this place.

Exodus 20

After God rescues his people from the hand of Pharoah, he saves them from sin and death in a similar fashion to what Jesus will ultimately do. Up until this point of the story, there has been no law laid out. Exodus 20 is the first place where you see the Kingdom ethics or the culture of the Kingdom laid out. At this point, the Israelites are now clearly God’s redeemed people, and He wants to let them know what that means.

One of the mistakes people consistently make with the 10 Commandments is looking at them as an individual call instead of a communal call. Many people consider them things to do to be right with God, but it’s not just about that. It’s about how to be right with each other and his redeemed people. The 10 Commandments are pointing us to a new culture, a new way of living.

  1. You Shall Have No Other Gods – The culture of the Kingdom is easy to spot because God will be first.
  2.  You Shall Have No Carved Images – The culture of the Kingdom will be one where we bow down to God and only God.
  3. You Shall Not Take The Name of The Lord in Vain – The name of God will be highly esteemed by his redeemed people.
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day – The community will take time to rest together, and you will look out for others, but not having anyone work on the Sabbath.
  5. Honor your mother and father – You will know who is a Kingdom citizen by how they honor their parents.
  6. You shall not murder – Kingdom Citizens will not put the community in disarray by murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery – Kingdom citizens will have joyful homes because they will not allow their lusts to tear them apart.
  8. You shall not steal – Kingdom citizens will have a trusting community because people will not take from one another because people will be willing to share
  9. You shall not bear false witness – Kingdom citizens will tell the truth
  10. You shall not covet – Kingdom citizens will be content and not seek what others have

Do you see what happens when you look at the text from an us lens instead of I? Suddenly, you can see how living for God changes the culture.

The Sermon On The Mount

The sermon on the mount is another clear place where you see what it means to enter into the Kingdom of God. Jesus is letting people who want to follow him know what that means. These Jews had thought they lived out the Ten Commandments well. Jesus is bringing it to a heart posture so people understand that they need Him and the Holy Spirit to work in us and change us to be like Him.

For example, with adultery, he is saying yes, maybe you have not committed adultery, but as a Kingdom Citizen, we are worried about your heart, so we will not even have lust in our hearts.

How Living The Kingdom Culture Transforms Churches

Our job is not just to wait to die and then go to heaven. As Christians, we want to see as many people be saved as possible. The way you see many people repent and turn to Jesus is by living out this Kingdom Culture. Very few people disagree with the Ten Commandments, but the reason a lot of people hate Christians is that they know this stuff but refuse to live it out.

What would happen if churches called their members to live out the culture of the Kingdom of God? The church’s witness would be stronger, and I believe more people would come to know Jesus. When you look at Acts, for example, people were coming to faith like crazy because the disciples were living with boldness. They had seen the resurrected Christ, and they were not Lukewarm Christians.

When Acts 2 says that “no one among them had any need,” it’s because they were living out God’s law to Love him and our neighbor to the fullest. They had adopted the commands of Christ, and that automatically means they lived out the Kingdom Culture.

On Earth as It Is In Heaven

The Lord’s Prayer says, “Thy Kingdom Come, They Will Be Done, On Earth as It is in Heaven.” As Christians, we beg God to bring his Kingdom down to earth. We want to live out His will and not our own. Doing this produces Kingdom Culture! There is no way around it.

Here is how this shifts with Kingdom Culture

Social Organization – How people are ranked and how families function

  • Die to ourselves to love our neighbors
  • Carry one another burdens
  • Submit to one another
  • Break bread with one another
  • Hold each other to biblical standards

Language – The same language often points to a similar culture

  • Study scripture
  • Sing scripture
  • Praise God

Customs and Traditions – Rules for behavior, food, clothing, shelter, and transportation

  • Attend church
  • Break bread regularly
  • Study his word
  • Communion

Religion – Huge source of conflict between cultures because it answers major questions of life

  • God, above everything else

Arts and Literature – Music, stories, etc.

  • Read things that make us more like Jesus.

Forms of Government – How common needs are met and how people are put into power

  • Depend on God
  • The family
  • Then the church
  • Government is the last resort

Economic systems – How people use their money, talents, and goods

  • Everything belongs to God and is owned by him
  • What we earn, we are always willing to give away.

When You Follow The King, You Live for Kingdom Culture

Following Jesus changes everything around us. But unfortunately, we don’t see this in America because there are too many lukewarm Christians. Too many Christians are just living like the rest of the world. If you want to see the world change, stick to His word and encourage others to do the same.

lan Warner

Ian Warner is a believer, husband, and father of three. He grew up running track in Toronto before earning a scholarship to Iowa State University. At Iowa State, he became an All-American and made the 2012 Olympic team. He currently is a college pastor in Des Moines, IA and is a church plant candidate for 2026.

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