“Is your Church a Culture of Peace?”

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What definition comes to your mind when you hear the word “culture”? If you are like many, you would probably think of a person who is an expert in literature or in the arts. Others would consider this term as descriptive of any human society, whether past or present.

Josef Pieper warns us (in his book “Leisure: the Basis of Culture”), that unless we take time to withdraw from culture to reflect upon it, for the purpose of rebuilding, revising, or refining it; we will surely destroy it and ourselves. In other words, hectic lives that rarely slow down to rest, reflect, and repent, will neither preserve the past nor correctly rebuild for the future. Properly defined, "culture" is derived from the Latin word “cultura,” which means "to plow or till." Thus, we speak of “agri-culture,” which is the care of the soil to grow crops. This word is also closely related to the Latin “cultus,” which has the meaning of religious worship, adoration, or veneration. Thus, this understanding best explains why the Bible describes a godly person as one who regularly plows up the fallow ground of his soul: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12; cf. Jeremiah 4:3; Hebrews 6:7b). Further, the Christian individually and the Church collectively are both responsible to constantly be in the process of re-making their culture through living and preaching the gospel: “You are the salt of the earth...You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16; cf. 2 Timothy 4:2-5). We are also to constantly be re-making our individual family cultures. Fathers, especially, must create a climate, an environment, an atmosphere, or better, a "culture," that is conducive toward “culto familiar” (family worship). This thinking is upheld by Moses’ exhortation: “You shall teach them [i.e., the commands of God] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7). Lastly, this application is no less true for our own church cultures. This explains why Paul reminds us to “...walk in a manner worthy of [your] calling...bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Ken Sande describes what obedience to Paul’s instruction would look like in our churches: “A Church has a culture of peace when its people are eager and able to resolve conflict and reconcile relationships in a way that clearly reflects the love and power of Jesus Christ.” May such a testimony be characteristic of our churches…

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