Monday, January 07, 2008

Be Countercultural: Listen to Christ

Jesus said:

16 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. --Matthew 6:16-18.

23 Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for you to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit your very self? 26 If any of you are ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. --Luke 9:23-26.

13 "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." 14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God's sight. --Luke 16:13-14; emphasis added.


Paul D. Adams said...

Jesus also says:
"love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44)


"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [and] Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39

Can we be countercultural without be anticultural? Precisely how do we love our neighbor while eschewing the culture in which they're embdedded? That is an important question and must be answered before we can begin to be effective with the Gospel message. We're not merely called to be different but called to call others to be different as well.

Ken Abbott said...

Argh! Be even more counter-cultural and eschew the lazy use of the third person plural pronoun as a genderless substitute for the proper third person singular!

What ungrammatical translation IS this?

Southern Dreaming said...

Ken - give it a rest. Why don't you respond to the post and not argue about translations?

Ken Abbott said...

SD: I'm sorry--are we acquainted?

Paul D. Adams said...

What is it about love for God and others you don't understand?

Ken Abbott said...

Mr. Adams: I confess I haven't the slightest idea what you're on about with the above response.

Does no one find it the least bit ironic that in a passage in which our Lord states, "If any of you are ashamed of me and my words," someone has found it necessary to correct his original language use according to the spirit of this age?

James Gordon said...


I am not sure that any of the passages that you referred to can be justified as an exhortation by Jesus to be countercultural. It is unfair to say that the pharisees in Matthew 6 represent the cultural Zeitgeist of the day. And, in the context, what people highly value in Luke 16 is money, which is detestable in God's sight.

I will grant you Luke 9 in that denying oneself is indeed countercultural. But Christ's point in the verse was not to be countercultural but rather love Jesus.

I am in agreement with you that Christianity is countercultural; however, I think we can better represent ourselves when we abstain from proof texting and a quick dismissal of culture as a whole.

A simple dismissal of culture with sweeping generalizations like "be countercultural" certainly does not do the topic justice. Rather, a thorough examination of cultural trends followed by careful analysis and finally cultural exegesis would prove beneficial in guiding one through the cultural discussion. I would recommend Kevin Vanhoozer's Everyday Theology for a good overview.

Ben said...

Just wondering if you would agree that if you do actively live out the three scriptures you mention then you might be countercultural to most of the church culture?

These disciplines for the most part I fear are not well received anymore. It is a good reminder, especially the "when" you fast, not the "if" you fast.


Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

Who dismissed culture as a whole? I gave three statements by the Lord of the Universe for you to chew on. Are you?!

Than Brown said...

Thanks, Doug, for your scriptural challenge and encouragement to be counter-cultural. I have been recently lamenting the affects of trying to embody such verses as you give here; being counter-cultural in a biblical way comes with a price and a measure of pain.

We as a family have made deliberate choices to limit the amount of "screen time" our two young boys have, encouraging them to read, enjoy the outdoors, or to be creative with the toys they possess. Unfortunately, this is not a common value, even among evangelical Christians. As a result, it has been a difficult journey to foster relationships for our children with other children. Kids come over with a preset expectation to be entertained or to have unlimited Xbox or GameBoy play time. They leave disappointed, and that relationship for our boys fizzles.

I grieve for my boys, and pray...

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

Than Brown:

May God bless your efforts to obey him and be a godly parent!

Tim said...


Our solution to your dilemma has been to connect with the local homeschool group. Even if you don't homeschool, consider looking into this growing segment of the population. You might find that a number of families have values similar to your own, and that can be the beginning of some good relationships for your boys.