The Kingdom and Culture

2016 RightNow Conference

We live in a time of cultural divide. Issues of race, community, politics, class, and law enforcement, clash and create chaos and hostility. Within this context, Christians are called to step into the divide and represent another Kingdom. In this 40-minute video from the 2016 RightNow Conference, Dr. Tony Evans exhorts believers to promote unity by choosing to be true Kingdom followers rather than cultural Christians.

Dr. Tony Evans is Founder and Senior Pastor of the 10,000 member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, President of The Urban Alternative, and Chaplain of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on nearly 1,000 U.S. radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Tony was the first African-American to graduate with a doctoral degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored over 100 books including Oneness Embraced, The Kingdom Agenda, Raising Kingdom Kids, Victories in Spiritual Warfare, Kingdom Woman and Kingdom Man. Tony and his wife, Lois, have four adult children.

As you watch this session, take notes and write down thoughts about how this session can impact your ministry. 

Tony made a compelling statement: in a football game, there are three teams on the field. The home team and visiting team are engaged in conflict. The third team is the officials, who manage the conflict. The officials do not join either side, but distinctly represent the interests of a different Kingdom. Unfortunately, the Church, which is meant, like the officials, to represent a different Kingdom to the world, ends up joining the conflict and promoting further division. 

In what ways do you see believers choosing to join the conflict, rather than represent Kingdom interests? In what ways do you yourself join the conflict and promote division?
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John 4:4-9 (ESV)

4 And he had to pass through Samaria.5So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.6Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”8(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” ( For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jews and Samaritans were two distinctly divided groups. The racial and cultural separation between them was marked, yet Jesus chose to engage the Samaritan woman, despite their differences. Tony noted the significance of Scripture’s specificity about Jacob’s Well. It was one thing Jews and Samaritans had in common—a love for Jacob. Instead of focusing on differences, Jesus started with common ground to begin to build a relationship with the Samaritan woman.  

In our divided culture, what are some commonalities you could use to engage someone of a different race, class, or political view? How can you steer the focus toward common ground, rather than differences of opinion?
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The Samaritan woman is clearly shocked that Jesus is speaking to her. It is clear that Jesus is a Jew. Tony mentioned the fact that we do not need to change ourselves in order to reach out to someone else. We don’t need to look just like them to engage them. 

Have you ever felt the need to change something about yourself before being able to engage someone who is different than you? How is this anti-gospel?
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How might bridging the gap toward someone else without changing anything about yourself honor the gospel? What reassurances might it bring to the person you’re engaging? What does it communicate about God?
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John 4:10-26 (ESV)

10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;18for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”19The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”26Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jesus doesn’t begin His conversation with the Samaritan woman by starting with the spiritual. Instead, He engages with her socially. We must have concern, not just for a person’s soul, but also for their humanity. 

Why is it so important for us to engage socially first, before jumping immediately to another person’s spiritual state? How might skipping the social interaction have a negative impact?
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Jesus didn’t allow culture to define His interactions with the Samaritans. In what ways could culture be defining your interactions with those of different races or opinions than you? How could you begin to shift your perspective?
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Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

20I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tony referenced Galatians 2:20 as the reminder that our identity is in Christ alone—not in our culture, or race, or political opinions. When Christ is in conflict with culture, it is culture that must go, not Christ. 

What cultural identities do you need to consider shaking off in order to find your identity in Christ? How might this break barriers among divided groups?
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In what ways do you see your church operating out of cultural identities and beliefs over biblical beliefs and an identity rooted in Christ? How might you challenge those false beliefs?
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In Christ, the dividing wall of hostility has been torn down. As His followers, we are given the ministry of reconciliation. Because of the gospel, we can engage others by finding common ground, caring for people socially and spiritually, and not allowing culture to dictate our interactions. 

For more information about the RightNow Conference or to find out how to attend next year’s event, visit

For more from Dr. Tony Evans, see his study on unity, Oneness Embraced, or visit his website,