Counter Culture

Just last week I purchased David Platt’s new book Counter Culture. I’ve only read the introduction. It’s worth sharing (and it looks like it’s going to be a worthy read.)

DavidPlatt

What if Christ in us actually compels us to counter our culture? Not to quietly sit and watch evolving cultural trends and not to subtly shift our views amid changing cultural tides, but to courageously share and show our convictions through what we say and how we live, even (or especially) when these convictions contradict the popular positions of our day. And to do all of this not with conceited minds or calloused hearts, but with the humble compassion of Christ on constant display in everything we say and do.

Isn’t this, after all, the essence of what it means to follow Christ in the first place? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Talk about countercultural. In a world where everything revolves around yourself–protect yourself, promote yourself, comfort yourself, and take care of yourself–Jesus says, “Crucify yourself. Put aside all self-preservation in order to live for God’s glorification, no matter what that means for you in the culture around you.”

And isn’t this, after all, the main issue in any culture? Maybe better stated, isn’t he the main issue in any culture? What if the main issue in our culture today is not poverty or sex trafficking, homosexuality or abortion? What if the main issue is God? And what might happen if we made him our focus instead? In a world marked by sex slavery and sexual immorality, the abandonment of children and the murder of children, racism and persecution, the needs of the poor and the neglect of the widow, how would we act if we fixed our gaze on the holiness, love, goodness, truth, justice, authority, and mercy of God revealed in the gospel?

Well said. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more.

But You, O Bethlehem

Micah had a resounding message: social injustice.  The rich oppressed the poor.  The haves dominated the have-nots.  I’m reading The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken.  Ripken served as a missionary to Somaliland after the country had been ravaged by civil war.  He describes unspeakable injustice:

I encountered one of the most lasting images of depravity when my Somali guides took me to see the compound that the current leaders had seized (after reportedly slaughtering the family that had previously lived there) to serve as military headquarters and personal residence.  Inside heavily armed gates, the war lord and his minions generated their own electricity, watched satellite television, and ate like kings.  Just outside was a mob of several hundred desperate children, bellies bloated by malnutrition, gathered around the walls of the compound.  The children were anxiously awaiting what was a frequent, though not daily, occurrence.  When the carcass of whatever animal had been slaughtered for the leaders’ supper was heaved over the wall, the starving children descended like locusts, tearing and ripping off chunks of bloody animal hide to chew on and find the little nutritional value that it provided them.

What would Micah say to these warlords?  In Micah 2:1-3 he says,

Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.  Therefore thus says the LORD: behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster.”

And then Micah gives the unexpected prediction in 5:2,

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

Through Micah God essentially said:  I’ll call the Messiah from an unknown town.  He won’t come from the rich, but from the poor.  My ultimate answer for oppression isn’t political reform, but an unlikely reformer who will come out of Bethlehem.  And how fitting.  Bethlehem means “house of bread.” Where else should the bread of life come from!

This Christmas don’t be surprised at how God brings justice to an unjust world.  And be reminded: God’s ultimate answer for all injustice is His one and only Son, born in an unknown town to an unknown couple, in an unknown cave to make known a great God.