These will probably be my concluding thoughts on the matter, unless I deem it necessary to make an addendum to what has been said.
The son of God, born unto a virgin name Mary; such humble beginnings for a man who would become the Savior of our very souls. God incarnate, Christ came to save the world so that anyone who believed in Him would be given eternal life (John 3:16). Most people know about this Christ, but was that the only thing He came to do? If it is, then why spend three additional years teaching truths and healing? What was Christ's mission? There are so many questions concerning Christ, I doubt I could adequately answer a few, much less the many surrounding my mind.
I believe that Christ came to redeem culture. The very fact that he sacrificed His own life to give us an opportunity to spend an eternity as co-heirs with him in heaven is a very strong evidence of that. I find it very difficult to believe that Christ completely rejected the culture He was in, especially when He would spend time teaching on that very culture and how those who follow God should act within said culture. He wanted to reshape the culture, not create something entirely new. Jesus himself stated:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished”
(Matthew 5:17-18 ESV).
What does the law have to do with culture you may ask? Everything. It is just as much an intergral part of culture as the stories we tell, or the music we create. I firmly believe that when God gave the law to Moses, He was creating a culture; one that was built around worshipping Him, and honoring Him the only way the Israelites would have known how at the time. Here in Matthew 5, we see that Jesus is taking that very same law that has been with the Jews for thousands of years and revealing more about it. He is reminding them, and perhaps even revealing a new aspect about God and what He meant when He gave them their law. Jesus begins a new era of how we understand who God is.
I don't want to leave the impression that Christ accepted and condoned everything about the culture He was in. On the contrary, there are many places where Jesus points out that what is being done is wrong. There is plenty of evidence of this in Matthew 5, where He speaks against murder, against adultery, against divorce, and many other things (ESV). In fact, divorce was all too common during the time Jesus taught. The Jews believed they could divorce their wife for just about any reason, as long as it was a cause for the man to find his wife unpleasing; for instance, if she burnt a meal. It would be easiest to say that Jesus turned the way people understood God upside-down and it presented many with the opportunity to truly understand God. Eventually, Christ would present before many that it is not so much the letter of the law that is important, but how we choose to honor the heavenly Father that matters. Ultimately, I believe that Christ wanted to bring us back to God, to the point where we could walk daily with Him, a return to Eden.
Many have called Christ the “second Adam”, and I can understand why. In scripture, there is a recording of both Adam and Jesus being tempted; the first failed, the second overcame. In this overcoming, Jesus was able to present to humanity and to God that perfection is achievable, and it was only because Christ overcame that He would be able to be the conduit in which humanity would be saved from its sin. Thus, allowing the opportunity to renew the relationship that was severed so many years prior. Perhaps, that is where the true culture of any believer takes place, within the relationship with the Creator; and if what God really wants is to bring us back to Him, why not do so through a beautiful story of sacrifice, love, and redemption? I really do believe that Christ did not want to demolish our culture, but rather give it a jump start, a “rebirth” of sorts to bring us back into that relationship found in Eden.
What does that mean for us in the here and now then? What can we learn from Christ and His disciples? I leave that up to you to decide.
Grace and Peace