Living Countercultural Christianity
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In a culture that places great emphasis on leisure, luxury, financial gain, self-improvement, and material possessions, it will be increasingly countercultural for Christians to work diligently, live simply, give sacrificially, help constructively, and invest eternally…
Talk about countercultural! In a world where everything revolves around yourself—protect yourself, promote yourself, comfort yourself, and take care of yourself—Jesus says, “Crucify yourself. Put aside all self-preservation in order to live for God’s glorification, no matter what that means for you in the culture around you.”—David Platt
Changing the culture
Jesus did not come to shape an insurgent army of cultural protesters. But he did turn both culture and cultural norms on their heads, and he continues to do so today. To crowds gathered in the first century, the wisdom of the rabbi from Nazareth was different than most. He taught with authority, but he also perplexed his would-be students with words about the first being last, and prostitutes and tax collectors making their way into the kingdom before religious experts.
To crowds in the current century, this teacher continues to herald a radical message. Loving your neighbor is a command that runs counter to most cultural norms, loving your enemy all the more so. The entire Sermon on the Mount was, and remains, the most countercultural sermon ever given.—Jill Carattini
Relevance and conviction
Don’t get me wrong, I also want the church to be relevant, but I don’t want it to mirror the culture in order to achieve this goal. There are two ways to be relevant. One is to accept the priorities of the world around us until our message starts to sound like every other message the culture enjoys. The other is to take a countercultural position and then make a case for why the Christian worldview is superior.
That’s the choice we have as church leaders: make a consistent effort to look more like the culture, or make a consistent effort to guide the culture to something better. Focus the church on the desires of the individual attendee, or repeatedly make a case for the surrendered, selfless Christian life. That’s why relevant church leaders have to become excellent Case Makers.
We can definitely use language, imagery, and music that are familiar to the culture, but our message cannot be compromised. We cannot surrender to selfish hedonism… We can try to be relevant by entertaining our selfish nature, or we can truly become relevant by making a case for what we believe, even though it is unselfishly countercultural.—J. Warner Wallace
Public expressions of faith
Daniel’s story is one of extraordinary faith in God lived out at the pinnacle of executive power in the full glare of public life. It relates pivotal events in the lives of four friends—Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—who were born in the tiny state of Judah in the Middle East around two-and-a-half thousand years ago… What makes the story of their faith remarkable is that they did not simply continue the private devotion to God that they had developed in their homeland; they maintained a high-profile public witness in a pluralistic society that became increasingly antagonistic to their faith. That is why their story has such a powerful message for us today.
Strong currents of pluralism and secularism in contemporary Western society, reinforced by a paralysing political correctness, increasingly push expression of faith in God to the margins, confining it if possible to the private sphere. It is becoming less and less the accepted thing to mention God in public, let alone to confess to believing in anything exclusive and absolute, such as the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Son of God and Saviour. Society tolerates the practice of the Christian faith in private devotions and in church services, but it increasingly deprecates public witness. To the relativist and secularist, public witness to faith in God smacks too much of proselytizing and fundamentalist extremism. They therefore regard it more and more as a threat to social stability and human freedom.
The story of Daniel and his friends is a clarion call to our generation to be courageous; not to lose our nerve and allow the expression of our faith to be diluted and squeezed out of the public space and thus rendered spineless and ineffective. Their story will also tell us that this objective is not likely to be achieved without cost.—John Lennox
[W]e have to realize that our goal isn’t to make following Jesus easier. The message of the gospel is necessarily countercultural and offensive to the human heart.—Ed Stetzer
How different might our culture look if Christians were prepared to live out our lives as followers of Jesus Christ as if we really meant it? If we daily demonstrated our willingness to take a stand for Christ no matter what consequences might follow?... Cultural transformation must begin with personal transformation, and that will only happen when people really see what the gospel looks like when it is lived out. What our country, our culture, our world needs are Christians who are willing to display the character of their convictions, no matter what the cost.—Andy Bannister
Standing up for the truth
According to world history, many prophets have suffered opposition and persecution. But they saved a lot of souls, and they woke up a lot of people, and they preserved the truth, the gospel, and salvation. And that’s why you’re here tonight, because somebody fought and stood up for the truth! All the way from the prophets of old to Martin Luther, Savonarola, John Knox, and Tyndale, who gave their lives so you could have the truth. But as a result, you’re here today hearing the truth of God, and this book has been preserved. And because we are willing to give our lives for the truth of God, somebody’s going to hear about it and believe it and receive it and carry it on after we’re dead!
For every drop of blood we shed, God raises up ten more drops to keep on preaching it! Praise God! For the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, some great martyr once said. It was not just what the Christians said that turned Rome to Christianity, it was the way they lived and the way they died! Then people knew they believed. You couldn’t have fought a bigger system than they had then, and that’s one case where the system finally got conquered.
Let’s pray and ask God to help us to have the courage to preach a message that may not be popular, that may be hard to preach, a message many may not receive.—David Brandt Berg
Published on Anchor February 2019. Read by Jason Lawrence.