Redemption- Hope for All
In a world of cancel-culture, intent on silencing and dismissing every flawed person, it’s encouraging to discover that God has a different response to imperfect, and sinful people. Sin loses its grip over us through the work of Jesus, the One who offered paradise to criminals on death row, freedom from condemnation to adulterers, and a new life for greedy exploiters (Luke 23:42-43; John 8:11; Luke 19:8-9).
Simply put, the Good News of Jesus offers all of us something called redemption (Psalm 111:6-9; 1 Corinthians 28-31; Galatians 3:13-14). Redemption is God freeing us from the power of sin (Ephesians 1:7-8). It is His renewal and freedom in our lives as He takes all the realities of our past and weaves them into something new and beautiful. Redemption doesn’t require our backstory to be full of potential and promise. Jesus offers redemption to every person, with full knowledge of their darkest depths. This is how great God’s ability is to take whatever ashes we give to Him and turn them into a magnificent and joyful testimony of His love. Only He can claim the ability to redeem, resurrect, and restore in staggering completeness.
Because it is offered to all, redemption is possible today, not only for individuals but also for families, communities, cultures, and people groups. If one person chooses to follow Jesus, one life changes. But when a family comes to Christ, the generational dynamics alter. When a large part of a community starts following Jesus, the expressions of that community start to shift (Acts 2:41-41). As many individuals come to know the love of Jesus, we see what this means for the larger expression of society. We see the start of something known as cultural redemption.
Culture is comprised of a people’s art, literature, music, traditions, food, ideas, and customs. A culture is the collective story that emerges over time as that group engages, invents, lives, and builds infrastructure and community. It is a macro expression of many individuals over time. Culture tells the story of what’s happening in a community because it reflects general values, ideas, and practices.
So what happens when many people in a community start to encounter Jesus? How does that ripple out and impact culture? And an even more vital question: What is God’s dream for the cultures of the earth?
What Cultural Redemption is Not:
It’s important to clarify what cultural redemption is not. If we define this heavenly vision incorrectly, we could inadvertently miss our God-given mission.
- Cultural redemption is not brought about through political power or legislated morality in lieu of the power of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of a transformed life. Cultural redemption is not driven by a desire to increase Christian power and influence. It isn’t driven by changed policies or laws or even the legislation of Christian morals. True cultural redemption is the work of the Holy Spirit in the surrendered and transformed lives of the members of a community. The testimony of Jesus in these Christians’ lives, their Christ-like actions, and their worship, drives change by inviting others into the hope of knowing Jesus. Redemption starts in hearts, and the goal of cultural redemption is more changed hearts! While this might manifest in godly laws, schools experiencing revivals, and workplaces governed by integrity and generosity, we see these as the fruit of changed lives–not ends we can pursue apart from Christ’s internal transformations.
- Redeeming the brokenness and sin reflected in a culture does not mean all elements of culture disappear. Instead, the message and love of Jesus may be reflected in the art, music and story style of a people group. Jesus loves people from every unique cultural group He is inviting to experience redemption, and He doesn’t have favorites– He chose diversity in His creation! There is a redemption story for EVERY culture, and each person’s testimony shows different facets and nuances of God’s goodness and character. He takes the story that was once a reflection of the influence of sin and turns it into a story about His power and love healing and restoring us. We must be careful to celebrate the redemption of every culture rather than promote one culture’s redeemed expression as superior.
- We know we will not see any culture perfectly redeemed until Jesus’s return! Culture can only fully be what God intends when sin and death are forever eradicated. The cultural redemption we see now is only a hope-filled promise pointing to Jesus’s return when we will see the completion of what was started.
- We are not battling for power against the secular, in the natural. There is no culture war; our war is in the heavenlies! Our kingdom is called the kingdom of heaven.
- We are not fighting to control politics, education, the arts, or other societal spheres. We are not aiming to force others to unwillingly conform to our personal convictions. We must ask ourselves if our labors are reflecting a heavenly kingdom or trying to set up an earthly one. The redemption of culture does not happen through Christians exerting external dominion and power over their secular neighbors. It is about the love of Jesus changing hearts. Jesus wants voluntary love given with abandon by people who have encountered His beauty and kindness.
Understanding Jesus Redemptive Work in the Nations
So what is cultural redemption? Let’s look at the model set by the early church in the New Testament. These are some key components of cultural redemption found in Scripture:
Cultural redemption is real transformation flowing out of changed lives (Acts 2:41-47)! As one testimony being declared results in many testimonies, change ripples through communities. This new love, joy, and peace starts being expressed in people’s work, art, and music– we see it in the way families treat each other, in the way neighbors love each other. The reclaimed mediums of a culture are used, sometimes for the first time, to worship God and declare what He is like. Selfish and broken patterns within a culture starting to shift to serve others with kindness and radical love as Christians filled with God’s heart leap into action. It means justice for the oppressed and mercy for the undeserving. It means healed relationships and restored communities. What the enemy meant for destruction, God now works for restoration.
- It is inescapably influential without seeking the power to control (Acts 17; Acts 2:47). Cultural redemption is seeing what God is doing in individual lives multiplied on a larger scale. It influences, but not out of a hunger for power or control. It affects others because it contains part of God’s nature that draws people, just as the masses flocked to Jesus during His earthly ministry. His kindness draws people to repentance (Romans 2:4), and His power shows God’s love for every person! And as people see God’s nature, utterly unlike our own, God’s staggering greatness and goodness awakens love in our hearts. This is what we were made for!
- There is opposition because the Good News of Jesus can change everything when it comes in power! It was said of Paul and Silas preaching hope in Jesus in Acts 17:6, “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world, and now they are here disturbing our city, too.” The enemy will try to stop the saving message of Jesus from being proclaimed. But like the disciples, we cry out with hope for the same result.
- Cultural redemption is hope coming alive. As we realize there is hope for us, we also start to see through cultural redemption that there is a plan of hope for our families, communities, and people groups. Jesus has the plan to restore all of it! Cultural redemption gives a glimpse of what Jesus will do when He returns, filling us with faith and longing for His coming.
What Does Cultural Redemption Look Like In FullnessEverything Jesus is doing on the earth right now leads up to an anthem, with every tribe and tongue around Jesus’s throne worshiping, in their own language, rhythms, and beats, in their own harmonies, stories, and testimonies, how God has saved us! He has saved us into a hope better than we could have ever dreamed. And all that is left is to fall before Jesus, wave arms, dance, stand in awe, declaring with love our new reality and His goodness all because of this word: redemption. Everything we’re seeing now is an imperfect but glorious glimpse pointing toward this fullness that we are promised will one day come to fruition! And they sang a new song, saying:
We were made to worship our Redeemer. And our mission is to make Jesus known, inviting others into the joy of knowing Him! When this Good News is declared throughout the whole earth, then He will return and complete the work of redemption He has begun.
What’s Our Part in Cultural Redemption?
Jesus had spent 40 days in His resurrected body, teaching and fellowshipping with His followers. He then gave this instruction:
Our primary mission is to let Jesus transform our lives as we declare His love and hope to others.
We don’t have the assignment to change society in our own strength. Although Christians might be led in their jobs and assignments in society to influence change, it is not our ultimate mission; nor is our victory, joy, and testimony dependent on our ability to influence or control society.
Our mandate is beautifully simple:
- Say yes to the daily work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as he leads, transforms, purifies, and strengthens us in love. This is called sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 2 Timothy 2:21; Acts 26:18; Colossians 3:1-5). This process of the Holy Spirit transforming us as we yield to His conviction and leading is the process of redemption. This is how God begins to work redemption in us, our families, and our communities. Sanctification results in a life of joy, peace, and power flowing out of living relationship with God, making it central as we tell others what Jesus is like! The Holy Spirit’s work in us is our testimony. And God’s daily sanctifying work in us is the guarantee that this good work which God has begun in us through faith, Jesus Himself will be faithful to complete (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14).
- Declare this gospel in all the earth. His redemption in our lives is the reason for our joy and desire to share this Good News with others. We are on a mission to invite the whole earth to taste and see that the Lord is good until that surpassing knowledge fills every corner of the earth (Psalm 34:8; Habakkuk 2:14; Matthew 28:19-21)! The Good News is a story like no other- and through our testimony, that of families, communities, and even whole cities, one day, every people group will hear this message in their language. Jesus promises that then He will return to a redeemed people from every tribe and tongue to restore all things fully!
To declare this message to every tribe and tongue, Adopt a Language today. Your support translates the message of hope in Jesus into the languages of unreached people groups and regions. By adopting a language, you are becoming a part of the missions movement and the redemption story of entire people groups!