Counterculture. . .

“Go into the culture and speak the language of the culture so that you can be a counterculture for the culture.”

I love this word. It speaks volumes of what followers of Jesus are supposed to be in this world. At my church we use this word practically every week. It’s in our DNA. But the word is often left undefined. What is a counterculture? What does it look like to plow one? Why do I have to be one? Am I plowing it already?

We sometimes talk about what that might look like in praxis; in fact, when talking about our lifestyles we often refer to that as counterculture. Sometimes we might say something like, “living out the gospel.”

Before I dive into what that looks like practically, I want to create an image of what that might look like philosophically.

If you’ve ever studied music, you’ve probably heard of counterpoint. Essentially, counterpoint is the relationship between two independent melodies that together create euphonic harmony. In a contrapuntal line, the once independent melodies become interdependent. One melody is completely distinct from the other melody, but when brought together they don’t clash. In fact, they create a beautiful harmonic line.

Counterculture works in a similar way. Culture may be moving in a certain direction, and a counterculture moves in a completely different direction, but this counterculture doesn’t attack the culture. It’s not an anticulture. To pull from my opening quote: we need to be “a counterculture for the culture.” In other words, we work for the good of the culture around us.

For many years modern evangelicals and fundamentalists have been caught up in a “culture war,” firmly believing that the culture was the enemy, and Christianity is responsible for making it right.

But if you look at the world around you, you’ll find endless possibilities for the gospel to infiltrate and come alongside this culture, creating a distinctly beautiful counterculture.

So what does this look like in praxis? Well, it’s different for every church. But look around you. You’ll soon discover the heartbeat of the culture you’ve been placed in.

What about for the individual? Perhaps that’s a little easier to answer. God requires certain things of his followers, but there’s one command he gives that encompasses all other commands.

Love.

“Love me. Love your fellow disciples. Love those around you who aren’t disciples. Love those who hate you for being a disciple.”

And what does that even look like? Perhaps it’s partnering with a local soup kitchen and helping to care for those facing poverty. Perhaps it’s taking that homeless person walking up and down your block everyday out to lunch. Perhaps it’s sitting next to that despondent guy at the bar in your local tavern and listening to his story.

Perhaps it’s choosing to not ogle the women at your office, to care more about your coworker’s wellbeing than your own, to deflect praise for a “knocked-out-of-the-park” project from yourself to your teammates, to value your community above your individuality.

And when someone asks, “Why do you live the way you live?” you can say,

“Because the God I serve stepped out of his comfort zone and said, ‘I love you’.”

Revealed through us (pt. 1). . .

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
~Philippians 1.18-19

Not too many years ago I spent a lot of time arguing about all the little details of inconsequential doctrines that, in retrospect, did more to hinder the movement of the Gospel than I thought. But there I was, more concerned with getting my point across than with investing in someone’s life.

And when I run into people who act the way I used to act, I get disgusted. I want to yell, “Don’t you know that your argumentative debates and judgmental rants are doing more harm than good?”

But I have to remind myself that God is still using those people. I may be turned off by their methods, but they’re still instruments in God’s hands.

I was talking to an old friend last night about some of the aspects of people within God’s Kingdom. Each person has his/her own spiritual gifts that reveal something about God in that person.

Take Bill, Mike, and Tom, for instance. Bill, the Student Ministries Pastor at Liquid Church, has quite obviously been blessed with the gift of compassionate love. God has chosen to reveal His attributes of community, love, and openness through Bill. On Tuesday mornings, Bill sets aside time simply to invest in our friendship. He has no agenda and no ulterior motive. We shoot into Morristown for an early cup of coffee and just learn about each other.

Mike, the Campus Pastor at Liquid Church New Brunswick, has been given the gift of service and humility. God’s mysterious nature as the ultimate Servant is very visible in Mike. He asserts no authority over anyone, but gently cares for people where their needs are. On any given Sunday morning, Mike has already poured my coffee, and is probably waiting for me to turn my back so he can set up my room when I’m not looking.

Tom, the Campus Pastor at Liquid Church Morristown, is an entirely different story. His obvious gift is knowledge and wisdom. He can spend hours poring over the Scriptures, and months later recall the deep mysteries embedded within them. And he has the creds to prove it. With degrees from Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Dallas Theological, and who-knows-where-else, Tom has clearly been chosen to reveal God’s occupation as the Master Teacher.

And when these three men work together, the Kingdom really begins to move forward. . .

(Post continued here. . .)