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I came across a quote by Brian Griffiths, a British Economist, in his book “The Creation of Wealth”. He writes, regarding the importance of using the Trinity as the standard for the kind of communities that we build:

“It [the Trinity] suggests that the idea of community is crucial to the life of a society. Any view of society which analyses behaviour as if the individual were some form of automaton is deficient because it fails to capture the importance of relationships. We were not created to live as Crusoe-like figures. As well as this, there is also the relationship which the trinity expresses between the one and the many, unity and diversity. In the Trinity the one God does not take precedence over the many persons, neither do the many have priority over the one.”

This got me thinking about the practical ways we create a diverse, yet unified community, and the importance of an active relationship between the shapers of culture and God.

Two Extremes

canalWithin the vast number of societies that exist in the world there are generally two warring ideological extremes.

In one corner there are societies that value communalism and dependence, many times to the point of self-deprecation. These communities emphasize the importance of the whole at the expense of the individual and the core values are centered around the many. Uniformity is king in these places, like communist Russia or North Korea.

In the other corner are communities centered around the “one.” These societies value individualism, independence, the rights of the individual.  Because their focus is very much inward, their values are selfish in nature and anything that speaks against their egoism is an enemy. These places value freedom without limits and often manifest as secular, libertarian, or anarchist societies.

Between these two extremes lies a place where people are interdependent on each other.

Instead of “tall fences being the best neighbors”, or a structure that sacrifices the individual for the sake of the whole, these societies are reliant on the understanding of inherent human value, have a healthy, non self-deprecatory understanding of insufficiency of self, an awareness of the necessity for personal responsibility and a foundation rooted in relational connection to the Creator.

Darrow Miller talks more about this and the importance of building societies rooted in truth, in his book Discipling Nations.

Restoration of Culture

Now, I understand that these are not new ideas, but I believe that the core values of societies are often overlooked. It is natural for any given culture to proclaim and defend its values without recognizing the underlying presuppositions and potential foundational lies that shaped them.

This can have tremendous negative consequences.swings

This has begun to manifest for the past 40 or 50 years in our American history. It has become increasingly normal for our general culture to value individualism with the battle cry of “to the victor goes the spoils,” disregarding the personal responsibility of stewardship, and claiming relativism as the answer to the annoying concept of absolute truth.

All of this makes calling out foundational lies and inconsistencies, nearly impossible.

It is for this reason that a living and active relationship with the Godhead is vital to the restoration of a culture.

You can study the principles, memorize fundamental doctrines, and create structures of truth, but if an active relationship with God himself is not made a core value, the society will worship either a structure that moves toward tyranny or egoism that slowly transforms into anarchy.

Take a Look at What This Society Did

In the 18th century, England was a society moving toward tyranny and as a result, was suffering many injustices.

Slavery was commonplace, prostitution was rampant, animal torture was accepted as normal, approximately half of the population lived at subsistence level, and drinking and gambling were a large part of everyday life.

girl cityOut of this broken society came a group of Anglicans known widely as The Clapham Sect, who decided to take a stand and change the very culture they were living in. Most of them were politicians and scholars, all of them were intelligent leaders in their own right, and they all understood one thing: without a deep and consistent connection with God Himself, there would be no lasting change.

This group of individuals spent three hours every day in prayer seeking God’s perspective on the various issues that plagued their community. Their desire was to see where the Spirit of God was moving and join Him in working toward justice.

They understood that it was only after an experience with God that mindsets and beliefs would change. They knew that only after a change in beliefs would there be a shift in values, and only after values being renewed would behaviors change.

Because relationship with God was their core value, they liberated slaves, reformed prisons, and changed the mindset, values and culture of an entire nation.

So What About Our Culture?

At the end of the day we want the change we affect to be lasting, and that only happens if the change comes by individual conviction.

I know from experience that #conviction can only come by an #encounter with #God. Click To Tweet

I’m not saying we should abandon all of our knowledge, experience, and understanding for the sake of some esoteric, spiritual journey. Everyone has a source of authority.

I’m simply suggesting that we use the Trinity as a tangible model for understanding healthy communities, and have a consistent, relational partnership with God as the foundation in our work to restore the world we live in.

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