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Culture Making with God | The Gospel Amid Corruption

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’

Genesis 3:8–9

‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’ But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.

Genesis 11:4–5

‘The gospel is not a concept that needs fresh ideas, but a story that needs fresh telling. It is the unchanged story of what God has done to save the world.’ The Lausanne Movement’s ‘Cape Town Commitment’ preamble captures the heart of this Lenten series.

This is the season to give up saccharine renderings of God’s mission, where a spiritual transaction secures a happy hereafter for God’s favourites. As we set the life, death, resurrection, and reign of Jesus against the salvation story from beginning to end, the good news of the cross we celebrate at Easter only grows in glory.

So far, we’ve been invited to join our Creator in making culture. And yet, as we lament in lockdown, we’re not in Eden anymore. Sin’s pandemic has infected everything. So where is the good news in the fall – the ‘bright sadness’ and ‘happy fault’ – and how might we participate in what God is doing to redress evil?

Corruption is the story of breaking culture. Instead of looking outwards and cultivating shalom to glorify God, humanity declared independence from God, no longer trusting his way of doing things. We were all wilfully deceived and ate the fruit. Creation’s life-giving structures remained but went rotten. Sin wormed its way into every heart and system, hijacking the machinery to reproduce disease, disoriented toward selfish gain.

Babel built up our name. But God comes down. He asks questions. He provokes a response. He unveils injustice, the nakedness of our pride, and pretention to power.

This is truth work: welcoming honesty and justice. In confronting lies, advocating for the oppressed, and sparking new ways of faithful reasoning, God sets up a model for humanity to follow. ‘You have the opportunity to open eyes, so together we can turn from death and find life to the full. Go, be a mouthpiece for truth and justice!’

In a deformed world, where abuse abounds and we need accountability, this is good news!

How, then, is God shaping us to expose error and deconstruct ‘spin’? We’re each called to repent over – literally to ‘re-think’ – the towers we build, and the tales we tell. Ask God to reveal what’s really happening on your frontlines. We’re saved to root out idolatry and rot wherever it lies. This gives plausibility to what we share, making tangible God’s righteous reign. For this is the gospel at work in corruption – a story to live and share this Lenten season.

Dave Benson
Culture & Discipleship Director, LICC

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