Summary: Part 9 in series "Life’s Too Short To," this message examines Christianity as a counter-cultural movement and compares it to Christianity as merely a sub-culture.
Life’s Too Short To Follow the Crowd
Part 9 in series, “Life’s Too Short To…”
Wildwind Community Church
May 29, 2005
I have said over and over and over again that I believe any version of Christianity that does not contain a strong counter-cultural element is not really Christianity. As I have also said before, Jesus did not come to this earth to teach us how to get more money, or to be more comfortable. Jesus didn’t even come to this earth to help us be nicer people or better citizens or parents or wives or husbands. Jesus didn’t come to this earth fundamentally to make church-goers out of us. Jesus did not come to create a little Jesus-world right here in the USA where Christians have their own little bookstores and their own music and their own t-shirts and books and magazines and leadership conferences. In fact I am continually torn between what I feel is the shallowness of the Christian ghetto and the fact that many of the books and much of the music that has influenced my thinking the most was purchased in the ghetto I complain about. Ironically it is the Christian ghetto – our own little sub-culture – that has given powerful thinkers the platform to write books that condemn that same sub-culture and insist that Christianity should not be a sub-culture, but a COUNTER-culture.
Wildwind was started to counter the culture, and that includes the cultures of churches all over America who have allowed Jesus’ teachings to become too connected to American values. It includes the fact that Christianity in America is aligned too closely with the Republican party. I’m not trying to offend you Republicans here today, because I definitely don’t think we’d be in better shape if American Christianity decided to align more with the Democratic party either. Anytime our Christian faith accommodates and adopts the ideologies of our cultural surroundings so that we don’t sense a fundamental clash of values between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdoms of this world, we have lost the plot and missed the point.
Are you mad at me yet? I haven’t introduced scripture yet, but I’m actually on very solid ground here, folks.
James 4:4 (NLT)
4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God.
Context is essential here. This is not saying that we make ourselves an enemy of God simply by enjoying the things of this world. God made this world and desires that we appreciate and enjoy its beauty. It’s not enjoying the world that sets us at odds with God, it’s AIMING at enjoying this world. When the sole purpose of our lives is to go for the gusto, to simply have fun, make money, and climb the ladder in this world as high as we can, we drive a wedge between ourselves and God. And my friends for heaven’s sake is that not what the vast majority of people in this world are doing? Aiming at simply getting all they can out of life?
Christians need to be careful not to align too closely with any political party, with any system or cause that proposes to have a corner on what is best for our world. God, though Jesus Christ, has made it clear that there is only one solution to sin, to evil, in our world, and that is for each one of us to address sin and evil in each of our own hearts. Let’s stay with politics here for a moment since that will make my job easy. How often has it occurred to politically active Christians (and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being politically active!) that it is more important to God that we love and serve those on the other side of the aisle than it is which side of the aisle we choose to stand on? When Christians start to think one party has a corner on all the good ideas, on the truth, they have gotten off base – they have aligned the world’s values too closely with Christ’s, and they shouldn’t always be very similar – in fact we should see many ways in which they are different.
How about when we take the world’s values too deeply into the church? What does the world think is the way to run our churches? The world seems to say we should put our finger to the wind and find out what “people out there” are thinking, and then adjust our teaching accordingly. Jesus tells us exactly the opposite. Last week we saw that Jesus taught us we are to build our lives on the firm foundation of his teachings, which are like rock and not like shifting sand.