When most modern Christians use the term "Jesus Culture" whether they are aware of the reality of what they're saying or not, they are essentially teaching assimilation and the replacing of Israel (ethnic) by the Church: this, in place of diverse unity (The true Biblical image of the Body of Messiah).
"My friend says there will be no cultural distinctions in heaven and that we should focus on our identity in Christ because as believers we have only one culture, that being Jesus Culture. What is your take on this?"
Your friend's heart may be for equity within the body of believers, and that's admirable. It is also true that we should focus on Messiah and be aware of our redeemed identity in Him. However, the theology your friend is proposing is tragically flawed. Both the seed and the fruit of this theology is Supersessionism (Replacement theology: the Church replacing Israel [ethnic, religious]).
The flawed premise is that culture is intrinsically sinful. I say this because if the theology says there will be no cultural diversity in the world to come (heaven) and we know that the only thing unwelcome in the world to come (heaven) is that which opposes God. Then the assumption is that human culture is inherently opposed to God. It is of course ludicrous to say that culture in and of itself is sinful or opposed to God, Yeshua (Jesus) Himself was born into, and practiced a specific human culture for His entire time on earth, that culture being the Jewish culture. In fact, it was necessary for Messiah to be born into and live within the Jewish culture in order for the prophesies concerning Him to be fulfilled. What is more, He is yet prophesied to rule over Israel (an ethnic people) and the nations (a nation is a collection of cultures living together) as King of the Jews, on the throne (in the lineage of) David (A Jew: ethnic) in the world to come (heaven). Therefore, if there are to be no cultural distinctions in the world to come, Yeshua (Jesus) cannot fulfil the prophecy and is therefore, not the Messiah. Utter nonsense.
Each and every culture may have sinful aspects within it, but all cultures are also rich with markers that point us to the attributes of God and His redemptive plan for humanity. To say that there will be no culture in the world to come (What Christians mistakenly call heaven), is to say that there will be no Jews, therefore there will be no King of the Jews, therefore, there will be no Yeshua (Jesus), therefore, there will be no "Jesus Culture"... This is circular and redundant logic at it's finest. The conclusion defeats the premise.
By definition, culture is intrinsically connected to ethnicity, thus, if one wants to demand that we have "Jesus Culture", they are either asking that every believer become culturally Jewish, (this is not what Scripture requires), or on the other hand they insist that "Jesus culture" is heavenly culture (A divine monoculture) and in doing so they deny the humanity of the Messiah (a Jew by birth). This is in fact a form of Gnosticism (heresy).
When most modern Christians use the term "Jesus Culture" whether they are aware of the reality of what they're saying or not, they are essentially teaching assimilation and the replacing of Israel (ethnic) by the Church: this, in place of diverse unity (The true Biblical image of the Body of Messiah). Assimilation makes everyone the same, whereas diverse unity allows for uniquely different parts to work together. Assimilation subjugates and moulds the unique parts of the body so that the body is a mass of hands, or a mass of lungs and so on. Thus, it is the destruction of the body, because a body of lungs devoid of a heart is dead etc. The truth is that the unique expression of diverse culture within humanity is like the parts of a body, each intended to help and support the other, resulting in a healthy functioning whole. The false theology of "Jesus Culture" (a universal monoculture) seeks to first redefine Jesus (Yeshua), removing His Jewish identity (which by the way would make Him an illegitimate Messiah) and making Him a universal non cultural entity: and second, demands the syncretisation and assimilation of all cultures in order to form a monoculture (Like Chairman Mao's, grey suit wearing, red book carrying communist China).
This is a sin seeded model that reflects imperialism and communist dictatorship rather than authentic Godly diversity in the unity of the body of Messiah. In short, the phrase "Jesus Culture" amounts to a call for the dissolution of cultural diversity. Scripture is full of examples of Godly culture and rich with accounts of a beautiful cultural diversity within the early believing community (body of Messiah).
While it is true that all culture must submit to God's moral standard through Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), it is not true that culture will have no place in the world to come (Heaven). After all, how will the nations and tribes of humanity come to Jerusalem to Celebrate the feast of Sukkot (Zechariah 14:16), if there are no tribes, or nations (both nouns denote diverse cultural entities).
How about we learn more about Yeshua's (Jesus) actual culture, the Jewish culture of the first century CE.
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.