“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth…” ~ Jn. 17:15-17
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God… Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” ~ 1 Pet. 2:9,11
As Christians how do we relate to the world? This is a question that we must ask ourselves constantly, for it determines our daily conduct and purpose. Recently I’ve heard the term “counter-cultural” thrown into the mix of Christian lingo. The term (from my understanding) implies that, as Christians, we should be “against the mainstream culture”, or going “against the flow”, or “anti-anything” where the world is “pro-anything”. However, I’m learning that Jesus was none of these things. He didn’t teach people to be counter-cultural, but rather taught a different culture entirely; that of the Kingdom of God.
What is culture? Is it not simply our collective experience as humans? Out of our experience we create art, practice politics, enter into relationships. I don’t think Jesus came to condemn this culture, but rather He came to redeem it, “for God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (Jn. 3:17). A counter-culture attitude condemns the present culture and distances us from it. However should we not be as Christ and be seeking to redeem our culture? Jesus came to give us an alternative culture. As “salt and light” on the earth we need to live that Kingdom culture. We need to show those around us; our classmates, coworkers, families, the alternative culture of Christ.
There’s one man whose life has impacted me greatly. He spent many years, during the 1980’s, in the Netherlands. He worked on the streets with YWAM, befriending and ministering to the punk & goth street culture. Now you have to understand that this man is the last man you’d expect to befriend pink-haired, tattooed, pierced, punk rockers. He has no piercings, wears pleated pants and has a comb-over. Yet, everyday he practiced the culture of Christ within the punk & goth culture. He was light in a dark place, and the light overcame.
Jesus ate with tax-collectors and prostitutes. Who are we eating with?