Yesterday we asked the question of how we get people we love, such as our children, to make good decisions and do the right thing when we are not around. The answer, I'd suggest, is culture.
When people talk about creating a culture in a church, a family, a business, or a classroom, they are talking about a way of working together that has been repeated so often, and with such great results, that people don’t even think about doing things another way. What started as a little of something turns into a lot as people throughout the culture freely choose it all on their own.
More specifically, a culture is created when people are consistently placed in situations where they can do what is desired and thereby learn the value of it. This is what Jesus does with his disciples, and what he does specifically in the feeding of the five thousand. He gives them an opportunity to choose to have big faith and act upon it. He gives them an occasion to think about the needs of others, what they can do to help, and then to actually offer that help. And in so doing, he gives them a chance to experience firsthand how good these choices are!
In creating this culture, Jesus is ensuring that even when he is not bodily present, those who follow him will make the same kind of decisions he would if he was in their place. That’s why here today, over 2000 years later, we have people going to Haiti. They look at the world like Jesus would look at the world, seeing a need, and saying “I can help.” And they do. That’s the power of culture, friends.
Two thousand years later, Jesus is still shaping our choices and decisions.