The REAL Gospel is COUNTER-Cultural...Not SUB-CulturalWednesday, March 17, 2010
So I had to stop again. This sort of feels like having stop frequently and use the bathroom when I'm travelling because I drink so much...water and legal beverages, of course. The Spirit is filling my mind so fast I have to stop and empty my mental bladder again. The ripple effects begin.
There are three effects of the missional mindset that I have already evidently experienced and didn't necessarily recognize it for everything it was. And no doubt some will get really mad at me when I say what I'm about to say. But it doesn't matter. What matters is WHY we're here on this planet to begin with. Let me explain.
"Good" Christian people spend so much of their lives in pursuit of three things: safety, comfort, and security. Yet Jesus calls us to follow Him, telling us that if we want to, we will have to deny all these things, and take up the cross and follow Him, which is something completely opposite of safety, comfort and security. Sadly, I (we) have too often pursued these things under a "Christian" label. This has been reflected in two ways in my family in the past, and in my own life as well.
1. Education. In the name of protecting my children from worldly influences, I sent them to Christian schools and brought them home to homeschool them...because I found that the world had influenced the Christian schools! So here I am, out of fear for my children, moving them out of the very place Jesus has sent them and ME...bringing them into a safer, more comfortable, more secure environment...in the name of Jesus.
The reason we're afraid to send our kids to public schools (where they ought to be) and to public universities and colleges (where they ought to go) is because the missional nature of Christianity is not in our DNA...plain and simple. We've turned inward out of self-protection, instead of outward out of self-sacrifice. We are afraid of the world because we have forgotten we are supposed to win it. We are fearful of the influences of the world, because we have forgotten that we are supposed to influence IT.
This has had the effect of making many families and many churches sub-cultural instead of counter-cultural. We have turned our attention inward, to our own families, our own "spiritual" safety, "spiritual" security, and semi-spiritual comfortability. We focus on ourselves by focusing on our families and our children. If my children can't take the influences of the world and turn them on their head and counter-influence the world, then they are wussies...and so is the father and mother who raised them. Jesus doesn't save people to be wussies. He saves them to be super-conquerors.
This means we must turn from sub-cultural christian schoolerss and homeschoolers to being MISSucational...missionally educating our kids with an eye to the same task that Jesus had - seeking and saving the lost.
2. White Flight. Christians have professed they want to win people to Jesus. But "good" Christian families move out of poorer, ethnic neighborhoods because it affects their financial safety, comfort, and security. Their property values drop. They worry about the safety of their things and their children. They feel uncomfortable around people of different races and languages and dialects and accents....kind of like they put on their underwear backwards. Something just doesn't feel right. This is how I was raised. My parents succumbed to white flight two times between my 18th and 24th birthday.
But as with the education thing, if I am scared about living in a neighborhood like that, what kind of faith do I really have in God. Is it as if somehow, all the promises and stories I read about in the Bible suddenly do NOT apply to me when I live in a poor, black and mexican neighborhood? That's being a wussie. And I'm a super-conqueror.
We don't win people to Jesus by moving out of their neighborhood, and then getting involved in charitable church ministry outreaches to those neighborhoods. That's pointless and useless...and the people in those neighborhoods know it. That's why churches have become marginalized in these neighborhoods. We've become sub-cultural. Churches don't matter to those neighborhoods because those neighborhoods don't really matter to the churches. We're too busy focusing on getting our preaching, counseling, ministries, leadership, and school choices "biblical" and right.
Churches need to become counter-cultural in poor, ethnic neighborhoods. If you like your stuff and your safety more than you love the poor, ethnic people, you can't say you follow Jesus. So either stop saying that, or else stop living away from these people. Incarnate among them just like Jesus did among us. Change happens from within....from within the neighborhood. Transformation and kingdom-expansion don't happen from outside...by appearing once or twice a year to do some ministry project, plant some flowers, fix a roof, cook some burgers, and hand out tracts. That's what charities do. We're the CHURCH for cryin' out loud!
This is a call to myself. Though we've chosen to live in a poor, black neighborhood for the last two years to do this, I am still shocked at how mad I got last week when someone got into my truck at 12:30 am and stole my GPS system, along with everything that was electronic. And it wasn't even mine to begin with. And it wasn't my boss's...even though it was stolen from a company vehicle. It belonged to God!
I'm still frustrated at how ticked off I get when another kid on the street...or even another adult for that matter...treats my kids with such disrespect...cusses at them...or worse yet drives 95 miles an hour in 26" rims down my short street with utter disrespect for all the children who play out there. It makes me wanna tear those doofuses apart!
I'm still irritated at how mad I get when somebody knocks on my door in the middle of the stinkin' night...for only God knows what.
I'm ticked off, frustrated, and irritated because even though I've chosen a path of self-denial in terms of where I live...and even though I've chosen a path of self-sacrifice in terms of how we school, I still act like one who forgets the mission I'm on. I still behave like sub-cultural is in my DNA instead of counter-cultural.
The gospel is taking deeper root.