Within the last 2 days, I have been reading The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, the book of Luke, and The Life of Evelyn Underhill by Margaret Cropper. The one thing that stuck out to me in all three of these books was how counter cultural Jesus was.
For the most part, our tendency is to want to be in the majority, to have our Christian values pervade society. We like Christian universities, Christian politicians, Christian musicians and actors, and Christian mentions in the media. We like it when our values and beliefs are respected and we are able to exert influence on what happens around us. We don't want immorality and excessive violence on TV. We don't want other religions or atheism invading society and influencing our laws. We want the freedom to do what we do and to have society applaud and imitate us.
What we sometimes forget is that Jesus was counter cultural. He was in the minority. Politically, he was seen as a dangerous revolutionary. Religiously, despite a real genius for ancient texts, he refused to climb the rabbinical corporate ladder and instead, aligned himself with the poor, the sick, the weak, the law-benders, the socially despised, and the relationally challenged. Pretty much a career-ender.
And I think that we do ourselves a disservice by not training to live as a minority in this world. It is a very useful skill to have, but it requires a humbling process to acquire it. I have often said that everyone should live as a minority at some point in their life. If you follow Jesus, you already are, even if you don't realise it.
Being in the minority means that we have to learn their language and customs instead of expecting them to understand ours. It usually means getting ridiculed, perhaps being refused access, and sometimes having the courts rule against you. It means having to find creative ways to do simple things like pray, gather together, worship God with authenticity, talk about Jesus, study the Bible, and help others develop spiritually. Society can never be expected to embrace these things or to give us much help with them. In fact, it will probably give us a hard time, and that's a good thing, I think.
One short foray into the history of the persecuted church, or any research on the underground church in countries that are hostile to Jesus in this present day will testify to the weak nature of our faith in contrast to those who "get" the counter cultural factor. Following Jesus is not proudly taking over our city, one city councillor at a time. Following Jesus is something that begins and ends at the heart level, not on the societal level. And it is probably the hardest thing we will ever do.
It is being light when all around you is dark. It is turning the other cheek when everyone else is ready for a fight. It is standing up to honor the name of Jesus when everyone around you is bowing down to the god of the day (read Daniel if you want to see how that turns out). It is keeping your eyes on Jesus while sensual, tempting images swirl all around you. It is solidarity with the outcasts instead of name-dropping and getting your foot in the door. It is tending to the needs of a stranger instead of your own entertainment, even at the expense of your reputation.
God is more than capable of upending our society any time he wants. But for some reason, he has chosen the humble, foolish, and ordinary to confound the smart, upwardly mobile, and popular. And I am with him on that. Humble and foolish, here we come.
But God chose what the world considers nonsense to put wise people to shame. God chose what the world considers weak to put what is strong to shame. God chose what the world considers ordinary and what it despises—what it considers to be nothing—in order to destroy what it considers to be something. As a result, no one can brag in God’s presence. You are partners with Christ Jesus because of God. Jesus has become our wisdom sent from God, our righteousness, our holiness, and our ransom from sin. As Scripture says, “Whoever brags must brag about what the Lord has done.” - 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (God's Word Translation)
This is a picture of two cherries on my table outside. They were consumed immediately after this picture was taken.