It is often noted that the biblical story begins in a garden, and reaches its climax in a city - the new Jerusalem, the holy city of God. What isn't always noted is that both these contexts are cultural contexts. The opening chapters of Genesis detail God's creation of a culture - one in which human beings could flourish in relationship with him. Similarly, the description in Revelation 21 of the new Jerusalem as 'coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband', and as a place in which there will be 'no more death or mourning or crying or pain', is a description of the culture of eternity.
And the biblical story between Eden and the new Jerusalem is a story always worked out in the earthy context of an everyday culture - from the nomadic culture of the patriarchs, to the culture of occupied territory in the time of Christ and the early Church.
Those inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the different books that make up the Bible wrote in real cultural contexts about events that occurred in real cultural contexts.
Jesus was incarnated into the culture of the first-century Middle East, that culture shaping the everyday practicalities of the clothes he wore, the customs he observed, the language he spoke and the stories he told. But Jesus, in turn, shaped his culture, transforming the lives of people he encountered, causing them to confront their culture with a different way of life. One in which wholehearted love for God provokes practical love for others, thereby countering the selfish ambition that destroyed the culture of human flourishing in Eden.
As whole-life disciples of Christ, we have been entrusted with his ministry of cultural transformation. It is therefore imperative that, like the men of Issachar of David's time (1 Chronicles 12:32), we understand our times, in order that we might know what we should do in regard to living faithfully in the world without being of the world.
To help equip you to this end, our Culture Resources include articles, video and audio downloads, so that you might better engage with the culture where you are.