Shortly before His death, Jesus commissioned His followers to make disciples of all peoples.
Through preaching and teaching they were to "loose" the gospel and bind together a community—the Church—that would advance the kingdom and bring God's glory to bear on earth. But before their commission, they were given a commandment, a new commandment: to love as He had loved. The sequence is important, as the apostle Paul later explained:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Paul's message is clear: Unless love is the driving force for all we do, our kingdom-building efforts will come to nothing. At the same time, Christ-love leads naturally to the Great Commission because if we really believe that what we say we believe is really true—that the gospel of the kingdom is "good news," we can't fully love others if we keep that news to ourselves. But Christ-love also leads to another commission given thousands of years earlier.
When God formed Adam and Eve, He gave them the privilege of enjoying the fruits of creation, as well as the responsibility of managing its proliferation ("fill the earth and subdue it"). It was man's commission to partner with God in caring for what is His. And since "what is His" is everything, our custodial responsibility includes the care of flora, fauna, and fellowman, and everything that affects the flourishing of the created order: art, music, literature, government, education, science, the marketplace, and all the institutions and artifacts of culture. Hence, the "Cultural Commission."
Whereas, the Great Commission is about saving grace—proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, the Cultural Commission is about common grace—shaping culture and building a society that restrains evil, establishes civil order, creates just laws, inspires virtue through truth, beauty, and goodness, and promotes the common good, all the while protecting the rights of the least and last.
Both commissions are responses to the Great Commandment. In fact, love of God and love of neighbor should prompt us to be "double agents"—agents of saving grace and agents of common grace.
Seeing and believing
It is through this dual commission that God's people work to turn aright, a world turned downside-up with the solutions that only Christianity offers for the pressing problems of the day. Nevertheless, many well-meaning Christians view the Cultural Commission as unnecessary, even counter-productive to the Great Commission... Continue reading .