Dr. Kevin Parker - 2018

Dr. Kevin Parker serves as a state missionary and director of media services for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

The tenth and final description of a Baptist New Mexican says, “He impacts his world by influencing its culture (morality, language, traditions, government, law).” No Christian should debate whether or not saints should engage culture, because such influence is natural and unavoidable. But, this description addresses a more intentional influence that is sometimes called activism or civic service.

Perhaps two of the clearest early examples of Christian cultural activism were Joseph and Moses. Joseph eventually served and rescued a nation from destruction by drought by civic service. Serving God in government, he rose to one of the two highest offices of the land. Moses repeatedly appeared before Egypt’s Pharaoh to seek the Hebrews’ release. He advocated for them before the highest power of the land. God had positioned them both for their roles. God still uses saints today to influence cities, states and nations.

Christianity inevitably connects a believer’s faith with his or her philosophies and expectations about the world and wider culture, including morality, traditions, government laws and the use of strong or offensive language. When God saves and changes a person, waves of influence from that change ripple out, touching people nearby. Some measure of cultural impact always follows a thriving Baptist New Mexican.

But, beyond that natural, unintentional impact, Christians can also intentionally impact their culture in many ways. Some Christians directly engage culture through various styles of moral, legislative, political or ideological activism. Some enter secular culture as immediate participants, serving as public office holders or government workers. Others gather groups of prayer warriors or engage in campaigns of attention getting kind deeds. In whatever form, they craft ways for their faith to challenge and alter culture.

Notice the placement of cultural activism in the list of descriptions. It comes last. The order of the descriptions suggests levels of value. Those practices described early are valued most, those later are valued slightly less. Though not devalued, the placement of activism suggests other Christian practices should have greater value - should be more primary pursuits. If prior descriptions are neglected, later descriptions are compromised. In a similar way, the strength of prior descriptions in a Christian’s life enable greater strength for those appearing later in the list. Thus, strength in the first nine descriptions sets a Christian up for significant intentional culture impact.

What is the purpose of culture impact? Baptists promote religious liberty because they know a person cannot be “made” into a Christian by the force of law or coercion. Forced conversion cannot be culture impact’s purpose. Neither governments, nor their laws, can produce the transformation and life-change God offers. Instead God’s eternal purposes, biblical compassion and advocacy, and God’s plan for government drive culture impact.

The strongest driver of Christian culture impact is, and must be, God’s eternal purposes. Those purposes are believers’ foundation for impact. Above all God has eternity in mind, as must His children. A Baptist New Mexican impacts and alters wider culture because their lives have been changed. That change prompts them to seek cultural impacts that are deeply spiritual, not merely behavioral or legislative. They want people to see Jesus. They want to help others know and experience the one true God. They want others to make peace with Him, His way. They want people to discover and acquire forgiveness and eternal life. They want to glorify God, to reveal His character, nature, will and plan to the entire world. Christian cultural impact injects God’s presence, His light into an evil and dying world.

Compassion and advocacy also fuel Christian culture impact. Through activities of culture impact, Christians act on God’s commands to care for people who are helpless, oppressed, infirmed, poor, afflicted or needy. Tyrannical violence, natural disasters, terrible accidents, droughts, floods, plagues and pandemics constantly replenish the earth’s inventory of human need. Saints respond out of God’s purpose of compassion. They respond in God’s name, with faith in Him, so the world can see him.

Out of compassion and advocacy, believers fight to protect life, families, parental rights and more. They also rebuild storm and flood ravaged homes, feed hungry people, dig water wells in deserts and more. They offer comfort and care - a kind of human hope - where people feel overwhelmed.

The final purpose driving Christians into cultural activism is God’s plan for government. God created governments to serve people, not possess them. Christians on local and world stages advocate for morality, human rights and humanitarian causes. In their own cities and villages, they promote the biblical punishment of evil doers and the reward of those who do good. They seek these things in the activities, laws and structures of governments.

Sometimes, Christian purposes parallel political purposes. At other times, Christian and political purposes diverge sharply. No political ideology, political party or government structure fully reflects God’s ideals, so Christians keep actively living their faith in public and on purpose for impact. They are Christ’s ambassadors in every place and on every issue.

SN4595

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