So I almost started a riot in PUBLIX (Supermarket) this afternoon... The cashier asked me about some of my exotic purchases (cilantro, parsley, mango...) and I let slip I'm cooking a new recipe a week from "Cooking New American" - as part of Rebekah's Christmas gift. Suddenly eight women are smiling at me and waving - and two or three men start giving me evil looks..... The work of a counter-culturalist is never done :-)
That was my facebook status update yesterday afternoon, and it makes for a good introduction for my weekend blog:
- Yes, I'm writing about my latest cooking experiment from "The 2010 Gourmet Initiative" - but that's not really what today's post is about.
- And, yes, I'm writing about the joy of performing serendipitous acts of service in the context of marriage - but that's not really what today's post is about.
- And, yes, I'm commenting on the new phrase I coined - "The work of a counter-culturalist is never done" - and that pretty-much IS what today's post is all about.
I'm also - partially - reacting to what amounts to a facebook chain-letter that's been going around over the past 48 hours. The content - and it varies just a little from status update to status update - essentially asks the question "Will you re-post this message?" It goes on to say that "SADLY 97% of facebook users will NOT re-post the message". The message is that "Jesus was thinking of you when he died on the cross". The implication is that NOT re-posting the message makes the reader "SADLY" one of the 97% who fail to take a stand for Jesus.
Rather than ignore the message, I posted a response that explained why I believe that kind of leveraged "witness" is unhelpful to the cause of Christ. What I wrote led to a positive conversation with the friend who had passed on the original message.
My point was this, and it bears thinking about: Messages such as the "97%" posting cultivate a "them and us" mentality that does nothing to bridge the increasing distance between the truth about following Jesus and what the majority of Americans think they know about church and church people. In fact I believe it exacerbates the divide.
Following Jesus must involve being a counter-culturalist in much the same way that my adventure in PUBLIX drew attention to the fact that I do not live according to the protocols of a culture that is still largely chauvinistic; a status quo that still invests a lot of effort in keeping women in the kitchen and men in key positions of authority.
The way we live faith out loud, and the manner in which we explain what we're up to is the only way that America's "97%" will learn the truth about what it means to follow Jesus.
The truth that really should be prefaced with the word "sadly" is this: The past few decades have witnessed a careful re-crafting of Christianity - a not-so-subtle shift that in effect merges New Testament faith with values and priorities that would require Jesus himself to undergo an extreme makeover or make a quick exit if he were interested in any kind of leadership role today.
Some religious institutions look and act like corporate America. Many leading voices have tried to make faith subordinate to partisan political leanings. Christianity as advertised on television and as demonstrated via the behavior of some of its most vocal adherents deserves - I'm inclined to think - much of the cold shoulder it's been receiving of late.
Like I suggested, the Jesus Way is - at its most compelling - countercultural. Gotta love these words from Colossians 2:20: "Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules?"