“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).
Most Christians think of the Great Commission in terms of evangelism. These marching orders, given by Jesus to his disciples just before his ascension, provide the foundation for church missions and for sharing the “reason for our hope” with family, friends, and coworkers.
But one essential component of the Great Commission – teaching the nations to obey everything Jesus has commanded – is often overlooked and neglected by Christians today.
This mandate is called the Cultural Commission by theologians. Jesus Christ has been inaugurated as Lord over all things. He rightfully stakes claim over our families, churches, businesses, schools, and even government—indeed, his lordship covers every part of human life and culture (Colossians 1:20).
It is our responsibility to bring everything under His authority and into accordance with His revealed will. In the earliest days of human history, God charged human beings to exercise dominion “over all the earth” (Genesis 1:26). This includes raising families and building civilization to the glory of God, carefully following the “instruction manual for life” given to us in the Bible.
Sin is destructive to the goals of the Cultural Commission. But one of the benefits of the new birth in Christ is our liberation from sin and our restoration to do what we were originally created to do. Our redemption empowers us to “knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments” as we “capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (1 Cor. 10:5, NLT).
Christianity is a total life system. The Bible has lots to say about every part of life, including civil government. The Cultural Commission provides a sacred mandate to apply these biblical principles to civil government, which we call “exercising biblical citizenship.” This entails being “salt” and “light,” contending for truth in the so-called culture wars and carrying out our responsibilities as citizens in our constitutional republic.
The Cultural Commission means Christians have no excuse for avoiding the mandate to engage culture. Throughout the centuries, faithful Christians have sought to obey and fulfill this cultural mandate. Our nation was founded by such people. We have inherited blessings that flow from the fruit of their efforts—just like our children will be blessed by our faithfulness, even to a thousand generations (Deut. 7:9).
Lord, you have commanded us to impact our communities, our state, our nation, and our world with your truth. Help us to grow in our understanding of your lordship over all of life. Empower our efforts to renew our culture as we teach the nations to obey all you have commanded. Thank you for redeeming us in Christ and restoring us to our original purpose of exercising dominion under your lordship. In the precious name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.