Friday, April 10, 2015

Living Counter Culturally

Recently, I have really gotten into reading David Platt's Counter Culture. When I wasn't editing pictures, working on my Perspectives homework, or sleeping, I was reading this book and soaking it in. 

This book has changed my life in so many ways! I really respect David's passion and commitment, as well as his enthusiasm for what he teaches. Almost every single page has been underlined at some point, and I confess, I was in tears a couple times, and close to tears many more!
I wanted to share some of them with you...

Why is the death of Christ on the cross so significant?
Because the cross is where Jesus, God in the flesh, took the just punishment due sinners upon Himself. At the cross of Christ, God fully expressed His holy judgment upon sin. At the same time, God in Christ fully endured His holy judgment against sin. In the process, God through Christ made salvation possible for all sinners - the penalty for sin was paid. We know this to be true, because God raised Jesus from the dead. This is the greatest news in all the world, and it's why we call it the gospel (which means "Good News").

A Call to Conviction, Compassion, and Courage
In this part of the chapter, David shares some comments from others, including Elizabeth Rundle Charles, and Francis Schaeffer.

(from Charles, commenting on Martin Luther's confrontation of key issues of his day) "If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proven, and to be steady on all the battle fronts besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."

(from Schaeffer) "...But do we really believe that we are in a life and death battle? Do we really believe that the part we play in the battle has consequences for whether or not men and women will spend eternity in hell? ...Sadly we must say that very few in the evangelical world have acted as if these things are true.
...Where is the clear voice speaking to the crucial issues of the day with distinctively biblical, Christian answers?
With tears we must say that it is not there and that a large segment of the evangelical world has become seduced by the world spirit of this present age..."

May this not be said of our generation. May we not sin through silence. May we realize that that not to speak is to speak. Ultimately, may it be said of us that we not only help firm to the gospel, but that we spoke clearly with the gospel to the most pressing issues of our day.

It is increasingly countercultural to stand upon unshakable truth in this ever-shifting time. The cost of biblical conviction in contemporary culture is growing steeper every day, and we are not far removed from sharing more soberly in the sufferings of Christ.

Wow. That is so true!
Let's read some more of Schaeffer...

"We need a young generation and others who will be willing to stand in loving confrontation, but real confrontation, in contrast to the mentality of constant accomodation with the current forms of the world spirit as they surround us today, and in contrast to the way in which so much of evangelicalism has developed the automatic mentality to accomodate at each successive point."

The gospel of Christ is not a call to cultural compromise in the face of fear. It is a call to countercultural crucifixion - death to self in the face of earthly opposition for the sake of eternal reward.

So in other words, we shouldn't just be focusing on how terrible poverty and sex-trafficking are. If we call ourselves Christians, we should be standing against the pressing issues here in the states - that is, abortion, pornography, and same-sex marriage.

The Gospel and Poverty
We have filled our lives and our churches with more comforts for us, all while turning a blind eye, and a deaf ear to abject poverty in others...we need our eyes opened to the implications of the gospel for how we live.

If the love of God is in our hearts, then it is not possible for us to ignore the poor in the world. The gospel compels Christians in a wealthy culture (That's us here in the U.S. of A. and the UK) to action - selfless, sacrificial, costly, countercultural action - on behalf of the poor. For if we don't act in this way, then it may become clear that we were never Christians in the first place. 

Free to Work
Ephesians 2:10
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
God has created us for good works. If you are a follower of Christ, then you are free to rest in His finished work on your behalf, and at the same time you are free to do good works according to His will.

In a culture that places great emphasis on leisure, luxury, financial gain, self-improvement, and material possessions, it will be increasingly countercultural for Christians to work diligently, live simply, give sacrificially, help constructively, and invest eternally.

Work Diligently
As one who himself delights in work, God has designed us to work.

We have more money than most, and we have the ability to work in our culture. We have opportunities to learn in schools, to go to colleges and universities, and to get jobs and make money. When we maximize our abilities and take advantage of these opportunities, we bring honor to God and cultivate society's good.

This means that as long as we are able, the gospel calls us to be countercultural in the way we work.

Live Simply
I Timothy 6:6-8
"Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content."

God gives us more not so that we can have more, but so that we can give more. God has not given us excess money to indulge in earthly pleasures that will fade away; he has given us money to invest in treasure that will last forever.

On that note...
God is our greatest treasure, and our lives will count on earth only when we invest them in his Kingdom for eternity.

As you work diligently, how can you live simply? How might you draw the line of "enough" in your own life, knowing that this will inevitably lead you to counter the culture around you? Simple living is a constant challenge, and I am convinced that the only weapon able to win this war on a daily basis is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Give Sacrificially
I can't help but wonder what it might look like for Christians and churches in our culture to give... Not just in a way that is comfortable to us, but but to give in a way that really costs us. And what would it look like for us to give like that with eagerness and enthusiasm, insisting on the opportunity to truly sacrifice for our impoverished brothers and sisters around the world?

What would happen if we let the sacrificial love of Christ for us in the gospel create in our lives, families, and churches a sacrificial generosity toward Christian brothers and sisters who are in dire need around the world?

C.S. Lewis said, "I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare... If all our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our charities expenditure excludes them."

Without question, the love of Christ leads us to do nothing less than this.

Help Constructively
Giving to those in need is not about sharing handouts; it's about sharing life. Helping those in need doesn't consist of throwing our money at something; it involves investing our lives in someone, which is much, much harder to do.

Invest Eternally
We can spend our resources on short-term pleasures that we cannot keep, or we can sacrifice our resources for long-term treasure that we'll never lose.

We're living for another land, one where pleasures never fade and where the poor are poor no more.

True religion apparently doesn't consist of monotonous participation in superficial pious activity. True religion consists of just and consistent demonstrations of supernatural, selfless love.

True religion doesn't cater to culture; it is unstained from this worldly way of thinking and living. True religion counters culture and results in sacrificially caring for people who can benefit you the least, who have the least to offer you in return for your kindness.

At the end of his book, David asks three important questions:
Are we going to choose comfort or the cross? Are we going to settle for maintenance or sacrifice for mission? And finally, will our lives be marked by indecisive lives or undivided hearts?

Christ makes clear that Christianity is not a path to more comforts, higher status, or greater ease in this world. The road Jesus walks is not paved with the prospect of self-advancement. Instead, it starts with a demand for self-denial. Clearly, choosing the cross over comfort is a requirement for following Christ.

Because the gospel is the most pressing need in people's lives, the gospel informs the fundamental purpose of our lives. We who know the gospel have been given the greatest gift in all the world. We have good news of a glorious God who has come to deliver men, women, and children from all sin and all suffering for all time. Therefore, we cannot - we must not - stay silent with this gospel. Gospel possession requires gospel proclamation.

If you haven't read any of David's books, I would highly recommend them! I have just started reading Radical, and am enjoying it as well. 
Also, for those who like to work while listening to something (like me), find his podcasts on iTunes. They're amazing!

And now, I must get back to Perspectives homework...
Have a great weekend!

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