Summary: Has evangelical Christianity become a "subculture" in today's world?
ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS?
John 7:14-18, 25-36
Whenever the secular media try to do specials on religion in America, Evangelicals are usually characterized as being part of a “subculture.” That is, we are not considered to be part of mainstream America. We sort of live in our own little world. To some extent there is some truth in that. I guess that I am really glad that this is the case. In my little world there are no drug dealers or drug abusers. Lying, stealing and cheating are not acceptable behavior, divorce is not the recommended solution for solving marital problems, men marry women and women marry men, children don’t have two daddies or two mommies, child abuse is not expected nor tolerated, and abortion is not an acceptable method of birth control. In my little world studying the Bible and regular attendance at church is not an oddity, prayer is not a strange thing for a person to do, traditional values of integrity, honesty, fidelity, temperance, and kindness are the norms. In my “subculture” we don't burn down whole areas of cities and loot the merchants, we don't have drive-by shootings, and we don't redefine perversion as normal. In my little world we openly speak of trusting in Jesus, we call him Lord, His name is given reverence and is not just another swear word, we believe that He is coming again and that one day every person (living and dead) will have to give an account to Him of everything we've ever thought said or done – down to every idle word.
When our subculture intersects mainstream America, then we find that we really do live a sheltered life. In the work-a-day world, we cross paths with people who see no problem with doing a little marijuana, getting drunk, being involved in homosexual practices, cheating on their spouse, solving unwanted pregnancies with abortion, nor using the name of Jesus only with an exclamation mark behind it.
What do we do when we encounter cultural conflicts? Do our words and body language say to the person, “I'm with you, you're OK.” or do we communicate that we don't agree with the prevailing culture and that the so-called mainstream behavior is not acceptable? In other words, do we affirm the fact that Jesus is the Christ and that He has a claim on our life or do we just try to fit in with the world?
Two thousand years ago when Jesus was in the midst of His earthly ministry, people were confronted with the question of who this Man really was. There were disagreements then just as there are now. The way we answer the question affects every decision we make, and every decision we make is an affirmation of what we really believe about Jesus.
Is Jesus’ Teaching Valid? – 7:14-18
14 But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. 15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” 16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18 “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. John 7:14-18 (NASB95)
Is it safe to say that everyone has an agenda? Those who would deny having an agenda would be like someone saying he has no purpose in life. Everyone has a purpose or something that motivates them whether they recognize it or not. In these verses we see something of Jesus’ agenda or purpose. Even though He was attempting to keep a low profile during this time because of the danger posed by the Jewish leaders, He found a reasonably safe environment in the crowd at the temple and He began to teach. This activity was directly related to His purpose that He later stated to Pilate in John 18:37 “for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”
There are several significant things which we can see in these few verses. One thing that is clear is that the “seasons” of our lives have “multiple levels” for lack of a better term. While it was a season of relative desecration and caution for Jesus, the local situation provided Him an opportunity to be “instant in season and out of season” in that the large crowd in the temple area provided some degree of protection against being arrested since the High Priest was concerned about how the common people might react if Jesus were arrested in such a public setting. Jesus made good use of the opportunity and taught the people.