Culture is downstream from the Kingdom of God, not the other way around. What this means is that our identity and influence first must come from Kingdom realities, which will then influence our culture. Yet, many followers of Jesus are more culturally-driven than Kingdom-driven. This is why we need our thinking and way of living reshaped and reformed.
We should want our thinking and perspective reshaped and reformed to the Kingdom reality because there is a superior freedom available to us in Christ. It’s upstream, if you will, to the freedoms our normal way of life promises.
But, as I mentioned in my post, “Surrender Shift,” it’s counter-intuitive to this societal construct call the “world.” As Paul told the worldly-minded Corinthian, we’re now truly free because we’ve surrendered our freedom to Christ!
22 For truly, if you are called to a life-union with the Lord, you are already a free man! And those who were called to follow Jesus when they were free are now the Messiah’s slaves. 23 Since a great price was paid for your redemption, stop having the mind-set of a slave. (1 Cor.7:22-23 TPT)
This is reality. Not the perceived or accepted reality understood by popular culture, or even by science for that matter (science is only a methodology by which to study the natural world). Reality is dictated by the One who made the Cosmos and holds our very molecules together right now!
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col.1:16-17 NIV*)
You could say that there’s no such thing as “outside” of Christ!
And He says we are already free! We are already complete in Him.
10 And our own completeness is now found in him. We are completely filled with God as Christ’s fullness overflows within us. He is the Head of every kingdom and authority in the universe! (Col.2:10 TPT)
Our life-union with Christ produces a superior freedom that’s according to our intended design. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with religion, as Paul said to the confused Galatians:
15 Whether a man is circumcised or uncircumcised is meaningless to me. What really matters is the transforming power of this new creation life. (Gal.6:15 TPT)
However, this superior freedom is not necessarily our lived experience, which, again, is why we need our minds re-shaped and re-formed in order to come into sync with these Kingdom realites.
Indeed, Jesus’ first message was that we reform our thinking and way of life because, with Him, the Kingdom of God has finally arrived on the earth (and now here with the indwelling Spirit of God):
“At last the fulfillment of the age has come! It is time for God’s kingdom to be experienced in its fullness! Turn your lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel!” (Mark 1:15 TPT*)
Other modern translations say, “repent” in this passage, which is based in a somewhat misleading Latin word. The word “repent” (from Latin penitire, “to regret,” or poenitire, “make sorry”), which is similar to the word, “penance.” It got into our Bibles from the fourth-century Vulgate Translation. Jerome translated the Greek word μετανοέω (metanoeō) with the Latin word pœnitemini, which is defined as “an act of self-abasement, mortification, or devotion performed to show sorrow….”
However, the Greek word, again, is μετανοέω (metanoeō), which actually means “to undergo a change in frame of mind and feeling, to repent, to make a change of principle and practice, to reform.” (Mounce)*
Therefore, Young’s Literal Translation renders Mark 1:15 more accurately:
`Fulfilled hath been the time, and the reign of God hath come nigh, reform ye, and believe in the good news.’ (Mark 1:15 YLT*)
Because of this deeply ingrained misnomer in our Western culture (we’re greatly influenced by Roman and Greek civilization and culture), many Christian believe repentance means being sorry or sorrowful for our sinful behavior. While godly sorrow does lead to repentance ( 2 Cor.7:10), we must not conflate the terms, for we can also be very sorry about our sins and still not “repent.”
An abusive husband can be heartily sorry he hit his wife, but then do it again the next time a similar situation occurs. He may always be very sorry afterward, but he has not metanoeō-ed, if you will.
The other problem with this culturally-perceived understanding of metanoeō is that we risk missing the whole point of what’s actually being said to us.
With Jesus’ first advent, we see a major paradigm shift taking place. The Kingdom of God, with all of its superior realities, has now invaded our world! The invitation to participate in them has gone out!
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Pet.1:4 NIV*)
And we are called to come into line with this superior reality by allowing our thinking to be re-formed and re-shaped so that these realities will become our experience, for when they become our experience, we become truly free.
32 For if you embrace the truth, it will release true freedom into your lives.” (John 8:32 TPT)