Summary: New Testament Conversion is not of this world and nothing but conversion makes us a truly counter cultural people
While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s, astounded. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
17 "And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.
I want to talk to you about the difference between what it means to be a truly counter-cultural person, and why being truly counter cultural requires a conversion experience.
There is an increasing number of persons saying that they feel dislocated—disconnection from the world they live in. This is also true in our churches. Kids are leaving in droves. Adults are wandering around looking (in many cases) for the magic church. Some think the cure is to remake our culture. Jesus made a very different truth claim. He said (in so many words) that the problem of dislocation is culturally induced, and that the answer is conversion—to get ouselves permantly located on the Rock of our salvation.
In his book THE NEXT CHRISTIANS, author Gabe Lyons comments on culture saying
“Cultures are like clouds. They materialize as by products of the prevailing conditions. They reveal the world’s influential currents as they move across the landscape. And while you’re inside them, it’s hard to see what’s really going on around you.”
In other words living in the culture is like the amateur pilot who flies into a cloud. He loses all sense of orientation to the horizon, doesn’t trust his instruments, and while believing he is flying level he is in fact flying his plane straight into a fatal stall or roll, or directly into the ground. That’s what happened to John Kennedy Jr.. He was in thick weather, became disoriented and without meaning to, flew his plane into the sea and all aboard died.
So if you get the idea of disorientation in flight, then you will understand how the Gospel asserts that the cultural cloud we live in is the very reason why we don’t know what is really going or where we fit in. We have lost our orientation to what is fixed and immovable.
Think about what is happening on Wall Street even a I post these notes to Sermon Central. There is a number of people there that you and I would have very little in common with when it comes to what they are thinking, but it is probably not safe to assume that every person there is an anarchist or Marxist.
Occasionally a person is interviewed who is there for the simple reason that they see the greed and crony-capitalism going on between the political and financial systems and they feel not only frustrated and helplessness, but for some it borders on hopelessness as regards where they fit in the “American Dream”.
Let me acknowledge that there is plenty of greed in Washington and on Wall Street, but if the earth opened up and swallowed both Washington and Wall Street up would the problem of greed go away?
What Jesus said in many different ways is this’ greed is rooted in every human heart, that it must be blotted out through individual conversion. We must be rescued from the cultural cloud that sin (greed), creates. “be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” Acts 3:19
If Jesus’ truth claim is accurate, that means those occupying Wall Street are not exempt from the very greed they are protesting. It means that those who believe that salvation will come by destroying the establishment and setting up a new system (socialism for example) would themselves become the new establishment—the latest cultural cloud. And then what? They would prove what history has seen proved time and time again, that the Scriptures are accurate in saying Romans 3:22 … For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God ESV