As Christians, it’s easy to look at our world today and think that all is lost, or that our culture is beyond saving. But Chuck Colson said that “redeeming culture is the never ending mission of the church.”
And when I was studying to become a Colson Fellow, John Stonestreet talked about our role in redeeming culture pointing out that there are a lot of “re” words in the Bible. Words like redemption, renew, repent, restore, resurrection, reconciliation, and regeneration show up over and over throughout the Bible, especially the New Testament.
These “re” words have to do with returning something (a person, a relationship, a project, a universe) to its original, intended state. For example, the Scripture uses a word like reconcile to describe how the relationship between God and people is made right again. But it also uses that word to describe what we are to be doing in our daily lives. We are reconciled to become reconcilers (2 Cor. 5:14-21).
And a word like redemption describes how Christ paid for the sins of the world. But it also describes the “already not yet” state of things, secured by Christ’s resurrection and which will be realized when his kingdom comes in fullness to earth.
In other words, the most common “re” words in Scripture are more than just repetitive words used to assure us we are headed to heaven if we trust Christ. They are also summary words that describe the roles the church and individual Christians are to play in the overall story of the world.
So, what does this look like in real life? John Stonestreet and Warren Cole Smith (The Colson Center) have offered a guiding framework for “re” word living in the form of four questions that connect our actions with what we know to be true about the world from biblical story:
- What is good in our culture that we can promote, protect, and celebrate?
- What is missing in our culture that we can creatively contribute?
- What is evil in our culture that we can stop?
- What is broken in our culture that we can restore?
“If Jesus was not corrupted by taking on the flesh of humanity, then our humanity can be made new. The NT authors describe the effect of Christ’s work with “re” words: redeem, restore, reconcile, and renew. “Re” words imply the reversal of the corruption of sin.” – taken from John Stonestreet’s excerpt, “What Is a Human?” in the brand-new CSB Worldview Study Bible.
How will you put “re” word living into practice today?
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