Are Christians Called to Change Culture?
Acts 19:19-20 – Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
God did the miraculous through Paul in Ephesus like healing the sick and casting out demons. Some Jewish exorcists wanted to try the same thing by using the Name of Jesus, with no faith, Acts 19:11-14. The demons said they didn’t know these exorcists and the possessed man jumped on them and ripped off their clothing and injured them. This became known and many believed and the Name of Christ was magnified, 19:15-18. One of the results of believing was the burning of the occultic books, totaling 50,000 days wages! That’s astounding! They burned them because of their faith in Christ. Culture was changed because the hearts of the people were changed!
We do not find in Scripture that Christians are called to change culture or society. It’s not in there, despite the attempts, books and messages by some who say we are to do so. Christians should address social and moral issues like abortion, homosexuality, poverty, marriage and more because those are Biblical issues. We should vote and be involved in the legal process and praise God we live in a country that allows us to do this, for now. But, some are too focused on “changing culture” and make plans, strategies and have ministries honed in on this. God’s plan is different because some focus on changing society, they forget the people who live in that society. God has not called us to change culture, but proclaim the Gospel, through which God changes lives, Romans 1:16 and make disciples, Matthew 28:18-20. By doing this, people are changed and when people are changed, culture or society will change!
Culture or society is made up of individuals who believe certain things and have specific practices. These individuals make up families, who in turn, grow up to work in the various vocations: education, government, entertainment, business, medicine and more. This is what makes up any culture or society. People cannot be dissected from living within that culture. Yes, the past and “tradition” affects people and cultures as they hold on to certain practices common to them, which can be good or bad. For example, many cultures have their own holidays. America has Thanksgiving, which others do not have. But don’t forget, that it is people who celebrate this day, not a culture separated from people.
The ONLY way to change culture is for people to change. By the way, people don’t lose their “culture” when they become a Christian. Jewish people who believe do not cease to be Jewish nor does an Asian believer cease to be Asian and each has their “traditions,” though some need to change. However, when their heart is changed, their response to sin and the wrong traditions within their culture will change. Rome changed from the inside out as Christians lived the Christian life in the first few centuries after Christ. One example is at Ephesus. These individuals, who focus on the Lord, His ways and His truth and proclaim and live that truth in love, will be the means God uses to change people by His grace thus changing the culture. The same goes for us today.