When God created man, he gave the instructions to “fill the earth and subdue it” and also to “work the ground.” This God-given assignment of cultivating the earth is not limited to farming, but rather it summarizes man’s relationship with the rest of creation. This is the essence of what is known as the “cultural mandate.” In fact, that word “cultivate” is where we get the word “culture.” So God’s command to us is that we make culture– that we create and develop and grow in things like art, music, technology, food, and even politics.
There is much to be read about the many dynamics and implications of the cultural mandate, but here are a few ideas that especially apply to this blog: Culture is actually part of God’s creation, and though it is fallen, like everything else it will be purified and redeemed by Christ. As our bodies will be restored and made new, so will our cultural works. Culture as a whole, then, is not to be avoided by Christians, but quite the opposite. All mediums of culture are to be redeemed and claimed for Christ. “Working the ground” is an act of worship, a wonderful task in which God has invited us to partake, where we put to work in the best ways possible the gifts and talents He has given.
This may illuminate the arts in a whole new way for some people. When Christians create, following after the intrinsic image of our creator and knowing that this is a work of worship, there is a fresh focus on artistic integrity, originality, excellence, skill, progress, and aesthetics. It also brings a second look at the relationship between the secular mainstream and the Christian subculture; knowing that the sin leaves nothing untouched, all of culture present and past affords a look through a biblical worldview. This is the aim of WORKtheGROUND, to foster excellent culture making among Christians and to grow the habit of looking at culture through a biblical worldview.
For further reading about the cultural mandate, check out:
Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview by Albert Wolters
Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch
(Photo credits: State Records NSW)