Being counter-cultural

This may end up being a continuation of yesterday’s post though not in any specific manner. By that I mean I am not publicly elaborating on the incident. Or well, at least not until James and Lee talk to a couple of other folks and get to the bottom of what led up to Saturday’s incident. And to set the stage for where I am coming from on all this, let me give you some info on my background for those who don’t know. I grew up in very conservative Missionary Baptist churches who considered Southern Baptist too liberal, but not so strict as Independent Fundamental Baptists. My dad was a deacon, and both of my parents were very active in the local church with my dad generally also being active in the local association. Essentially, I fall under the category of “preacher’s kid.” I often say I’ve been a Baptist 12 years longer than I’ve been a believer even though I no longer belong to a Baptist church.

I walked away from the church when I was 19, and it took nearly 20 years for me to return. When I came back, everything changed. I wanted to read my bible. I wanted to study it. I wanted to pray, and have learned through the reading and studying and my less than eloquent prayer that praying isn’t about asking for what I want that I think will make me happy. I was the prodigal son for those 20 years away. But I was also still in the mindset I had grown up in which amounted to the prodigal’s older brother. And I fed that with talk radio and reading certain pastors and Christian writers. But I just couldn’t keep it down. It kept me hungry all the time because somehow I knew I wasn’t really growing, and was instead stressing on things that weren’t mine to stress on. This is also why I don’t blog about politics anymore. I was feeling too militant.

Now with that out of the way, maybe I can remember what I was going to write about. ;) Using “counter-cultural” is usually used by Christians to other Christians to live differently than the world because we should not look and/or sound like non-believers. We are to be salt and light among the world to point to world to Jesus. And so we have our own culture, but if we aren’t careful we make our own culture a little-g god of its own. We forget that our holiness comes from the finished work of Jesus Christ alone and start acting like we are able to behave good enough to be worthy of grace. Once we do that, then we ourselves become the judge and determine who is worthy to belong among us by imposing a “conservative” set of rules that are meant to show 1) that we ourselves are spiritually mature and 2) to impose a faux spiritual maturity on spiritual babies who will either learn how to pretend or will eventually go away because they are made to feel so uncomfortable by being unable to live up to those who have deemed themselves spiritually mature enough to be the judge.

This is how many churches end up bearing more of a resemblance to a country club than a gathering of followers of Jesus. Instead of reaching out and embracing the lost, we end up reaching out to fill our pews with people who either already look and act like us or who are willing to pretend in order to fit into the church culture. Instead of making disciples, we are making cliques. Then when someone dares to buck against the church culture we unbiblically run them off (often in secret or known only among our little gossip cliques), or when someone gets fed up and leaves on their own (whether because of the gossip and backbiting/slander or not), they are shunned and treated as enemies. And then we wonder why our churches are in decline and/or outright dying and why we aren’t growing. It really isn’t rocket science.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23, ESV)

There is quite a contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Country-clubbing your church isn’t fruit of the Spirit. Constantly telling the single mother that she is living in sin and then gossiping about her is not a fruit of the Spirit. Having an angry outburst at a former member who has been picking up food for your food bank every other Wednesday for the last 5 years even AFTER leaving your church because he dared to pick up a bag of food for his son is not displaying the fruit of the Spirit. This is why we need people in the church being counter culture to the church culture so that the church can be salt and light instead of just another one of the world’s exclusive clubs that treats the Word of God as merely a rulebook.

6 Responses to 'Being counter-cultural'

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Excellent post. You are so correct. Thank God you do not live near Liberty University, here in Lynchburg, which we all coined “Libertyville.” The whole Jerry Falwell movement is a farce. Non-believers think Christians are a joke, and Christians here are void of knowledge and those that do have knowledge are sickened by the lack of Christian love and charity, the void of the movement of the holy spirit. Just thank God you do not live here. This is called the City of Churches, all dead – white washed sepulchers with dead mens bones in it. Very sad and we cannot find a good church home so we watch TBN or join John Hagee’s Services via GETV every Sunday. It is truly a disgrace here.

    I wanted to thank you for coming by my blog. The blogosphere has changed, and not for the good. I thought today about giving up and just deleting my blog, but then you came by and it reminded me that what the devil meant for evil God will use for good. I hope God will help my blog bless others despite the ugliness out there. Well, point is I decided not to delete it. Thank you! :angel:
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    • DragonLady says:

      Having grown up in the Bible Belt and specifically among Missionary Baptists, even Falwell is too liberal. Both the Missionary and Independent Fundamental Baptists are Landmarkists who left the Southern Baptist Convention. I grew up indoctrinated with Landmarkism and just this past summer did enough research to come to realize Lankmarkism is a cult based on ridiculously wrong biblical interpretation. I still consider myself a Baptist by doctrine, I just can’t be a cultural baptist anymore. Whitewashed tombs is the perfect description.

      I am so glad you didn’t delete it!!! Keep on blogging! I went through my rss reader today during a short break and marked almost all of the blogs I read as read because I haven’t had time to keep up since I am in training this week and next. But yours was one of only 3 blogs that I saved until tonight to catch up on. It’s been a rough day, and I changed into my pj’s shortly after 6 because I was DONE!

      And thank you for coming by. I’m on full snark this week because I got pissed off over the weekend. I might have it out of my system now though. ;)

  2. Opal says:

    Some of your upbringing sounds similar to my own. I will say that Lynchburg and Liberty University isn’t all bad. Neither are Christians who live there, painting them all the same way is no different than lumping in other group under one category, it’s just not that simple.

    I remember Jerry Falwell walking the DeMoss halls when I went to Liberty University in the late 1980’s and early 1990s. He was a friendly person, although it’s been years since I’ve been there, I do miss his energy and was sad when I heard he died. I will say that I knew a lot about the Bible much before I attended Liberty, so know we were not all “void of knowledge.”

    I do think, at times, we as Christians come down to harshly on other believers. In the past I was guilty of this myself. But I was shot down off my ‘high horse.’ With all the negativity I see… I guess I’m expecting Christians to be set apart an above the pettiness, you know? Encourage each and pray for one another with love…
    Opal recently posted..WoW: Scored Jeeves schematic; So much for sleep…My Profile

    • DragonLady says:

      Well now that I have calmed down thanks to a lot of prayer about the whole issue that got me worked up, I think I will write a follow up to this maybe this weekend. I’ve only known just a handful of folks from Liberty, but one of the professors used to be my boss when we were in England.

      I think a lot has to do with a person’s attitude before they go to Liberty or any Christian college or seminary. It’s not so much a lack of knowledge as that knowledge puffs up. I know I have a huge issue with myself getting all puffed up. :)

  3. Petra says:

    Can’t wait for the next post!!

    On the commenting – I’ve known lots of people from Liberty, and many more from the much stricter IFB colleges. There are a handful of true filled-with-the-Holy-Spirit Christians among the hypocritical self-righteous judges. A handful. :)

    I’ve had some of those alumni tell my children that they *must* go to one of those schools if they want to follow Christ, but I’ve encouraged my children to never ever even consider going to one of those schools lest they get sucked up by the pharisetical leeches. ;)