Life in the Counter Culture

This article, apart from minor revisions, first appeared in my church’s weekly a year or so ago.

In a country founded on biblical principles, it’s easy to forget that Christianity is counter-cultural. A close look at American society, though, shows that our current culture, the church included, reflects Mankind’s sinful nature more than it does our biblical underpinnings. Here’s a case in point.

Some time ago a friend of mine was put into a situation all parents dread. One of her children was caught doing something offensive to another child. Really wrong. Sinful.

The guilty child was remorseful and did not balk at the resulting discipline. In addition the offender wrote a letter of apology to the offended young person. That same day, upon receiving the letter, the offended called to say, I forgive you.

At this point, we might all smile and say, This is the way discipline is supposed to work. Except there is more story. A follow-up phone call came to my friend from one of the offended’s parents saying their child did not have permission to forgive.

And sure enough, contact between the two families dwindled to little more than polite and somewhat frosty greetings in church Sunday mornings.

Eventually the church leadership laid out a process designed to bring about reconciliation, but in subsequent meetings the offended’s parents and their now unforgiving child made it clear they had no intention of extending mercy to the repentant and disciplined offender. Soon after, the offended’s family left the church.

This sad story brings to my mind the parable Jesus told about the unforgiving servant who himself had experienced his master’s forgiveness. “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have mercy on your fellow slave in the same way that I had mercy on you?’” (Matthew 18:32-33)

The point is clear—my forgiveness of those who sin against me needs to look like God’s forgiveness of me. But how counter-cultural is that?

Our Rambo-esque society says, Don’t get even, get revenge.

Jesus spelled out how He wants His followers to handle mistreatment: “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also” (Matthew 5:40).

But … but … but … that’s no way to run a business, we say. Or, You can’t have people just walking all over you.

In coming to such conclusions, we’re thinking like our culture. We’ve forgotten who God is, that He is the judge, that we are not. We’ve forgotten He is the One who claims vengeance and tells us to forgo the same. We’ve forgotten He forgives us and tells us to go and do likewise.

Such thinking is so different from the way the rest of society operates. How counter-cultural!

Published in: on February 5, 2010 at 11:39 am  Comments (5)  
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5 Comments

  1. Becky,
    A few weeks ago I discovered your blog through the CSFF Tour and have enjoyed reading many of your past posts and sample excerpts. You definately have a gift for putting thoughts to words and tact to debate. You are on my favorites list.

    I thought you might enjoy these quotes from C.S. Lewis as they seem especially relevant to recent posts.

    “If we retain only what can be justified by standards of prudence and convenience at the bar of enlightened common sense, then we exchange revelation for that old wraith Natural Religion.”

    –‘Notes on the Way’, Time and Tide

    “There is nothing indulgent about the Moral Law. It is as hard as nails…If God is like the Moral Law, then He is not soft.”

    –Mere Christianity

    “If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. Similarly if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all.”

    –The Abolition of Man

    “Those who would like the God of scripture to be more purely ethical, do not know what they ask.”

    –The Problem of Pain

    “A universe whose only claim to be believed in rests on the validity of inference must not start telling us the inference is invalid…”

    –Christian Reflections

    “The laws of thought are also the laws of things: of things in the remotest space and the remotest time.”

    –Christian Reflections

    “Looking for God–or Heaven–by exploring space is like reading or seeing all Shakespeare’s plays in the hope that you will find Shakespeare as one of the characters…”

    –‘The Seeing Eye’, Christian Reflections (150)

    “‘We do not truly see light, we only see slower things lit by it, so that for us light is on the edge–the last thing we know before things become too swift for us.'”

    –Out of the Silent Planet

    “In coming to understand anything we are rejecting the facts as they are for us in favour of the facts as they are.”

    God Bless!

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  2. Becky, as encouragement, thank you for always standing up for God’s unwavering truth as it is presented in the Bible. The discussions on your site these last few weeks helped open up a door with a friend of mine when she started talking about Avatar. Instead of going into what was wrong about it, I was able to talk to her about how I think Avatar opens up the desire we have inside for peace and love, but its not found in nature, but in God. I was prepared and able to use a cultural event to share the gospel.

    But I do not believe I would have been as prepared if it had not been for the debates on your site; they have challenged me and sharpened my understanding of God. So thank you bringing up these issues!

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  3. Bob, those quotes are EXCELLENT. Thanks so much for taking the time to share them.

    Morgan, you made my day. I am so glad you found the discussion helpful. I think you’ve made the clear distinction that Christians need to recognize when they read or view material like Avatar.

    Thanks for passing along the interaction you had with your friend.

    Becky

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  4. We need to be radical in how we think, act, and decide. Without being fundamentally different from the world, we cannot follow Christ truly. Thank you for this!

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    • Sir Emeth, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Yes, we do need to be radical and different if we are to show the world the alternative Christ offers.

      Becky

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