Over nine years of blogging, my focus has shifted. “Countercultural” used to represent a rebellion against worldly culture. But now, I feel, the challenge for myself and for other Christians is not only to live a life different than the world but to live countercultural from the popular American church.
I’m not talking about “prosperity gospel” churches or ones that preach error but instead about modern American churches attended by evangelicals. Here are some (not exhaustive) ways I’ve seen a “rebellious” sort of longing in my heart for more than the American church:
We are isolated, and we don’t welcome others with honesty or vulnerability because of fear of the unknown. This is true both inside and outside the church. This keeps us from loving others through our words and actions.
We have a weak view of faith, prayer, eternity, and being led by the Spirit, resulting in a lifestyle requiring little to no divine participation or sacrifice.
Our view of obedience is on a “as long as it doesn’t inconvenience me” basis, meaning no basis of obedience at all. We’ll obey God as long as He obeys us.
We’re uncommitted to the global (and often persecuted) Church, and as a result our Christianity is often blind to the realities of the world that could change our narrow perspective and deepen our hunger for God.
We have a poor view of work and an inflated view of church roles, resulting in people who feel inferior because their job doesn’t identify as “ministry” and see only people in “ministry” as being effective for the kingdom of God.
We say we follow Jesus, but we have explained away so much of the life of Jesus that we’re left with a dim shadow of Christ. We do not love, give, pray, obey, or disciple like He did. In essence, American Christianity has left us “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5).
Clearing Up a Few Things about “Countercultural”
You don’t write something like I just wrote and not have a few people disagree, and for that I’m thankful. I don’t claim to have a perfect perspective, and I know you don’t, either. So let’s help each other understand one another.
First, every time we hear a word of truth, we can either respond with guilt or conviction. Guilt pushes us down, but conviction pushes us forward.
Second, the Bible clearly says God’s Word is good for “teaching, reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). One of the functions of God’s Word is to reprove us of beliefs to which we either knowingly or unknowingly subscribe. “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19).
Finally, I love the Church. The Church is the bride of Christ, and I am so excited of the day the Bridegroom appears and washes every trace of hypocrisy from His Bride. In the meantime, we are called to endure and to exhort each other daily (Hebrews 3:13).
God wants to know us, and I hope the desire of your heart is to know Him. This isn’t about legalism, guilt, or relevance. This is about me looking at Jesus and saying, “Lord, I fall so far short. The more I know You, the more I realize how far I am from You. Please lead me to know You, and by Your grace, allow me to lead others a little bit closer to You.”