Most people I talk to seem to have a tendency of seeing things through a very individualistic lens. It’s hard not to in our culture where everything is seen in relative terms—relative to an individual’s needs, wants, etc. That’s part of how capitalism works I guess. One must get what’s best for them self and take advantage of everyone else as well as take everyone else for granted as they do it. And we, the Church haven’t fully understood our role in this yet.
We’ve grasped the concept of being “counter-cultural” and “set apart.” But in doing so, we’ve actually become just the same. We’re competing with culture rather than being set apart from it… there is a difference. We are using the methods of our culture and even the philosophies of our culture in order to compete. We’re elbowing our way, trying to get to the top of all the culture’s charts. Like good Americans we’re doing everything we can to get noticed over the “secular” world. In music, in literature, even in Church itself. We market just like the world does—appealing to individual’s need’s and wants and making false (or at least deceptive) promises to draw people in. We say that life will be better, God will bless you, you’ll get to go to heaven someday, etc., and all the while it’s all about what that individual will get out of Jesus. We’re just like our culture. We’re no different than MTV or Hollywood. We, just like them, believe that we have the best product.
We are indeed called to be “set apart” and, yes, we should be different than our culture. These things are essential to our identity as Christians. But we are not called to compete with our culture.
So how on earth are we supposed to change this? How do we be “set apart?” Well, it involves our theology—that is how we think of things like Salvation, God, and the Church. But it starts with losing. We need to be ok with losing the media battle and find our identity in community rather than in conquest.
More on this later…
this is a good start, Mr. Ellis. We should have battles of our own sometime...with monkeys.
We also need to keep in mind that it is not only we who set ourselves apart, we are already set apart by the Lord from the moment he chose us he set us apart as his own. Because he blesses us in order that we might be a blessing to the nations, he has set us apart and given us a place in his work.
Evangelical Gigolo by Mike Yaconelli
The Wittenberg Door June 1980
He stood in front of the television camera,
his eyes ablaze with conviction,
his voice charged with emotion,
with every hair in place, and
not a wrinkle in his three piece
baby blue suit.
And, he shouted to anyone who was listening:
"We are not losers,
We are winners!"
I turned my television off
and sat quietly in the room
disturbed by an unknown source of anxiety.
It was not until a few days later
that I discovered what was bothering me.
What frightened me then
and what scares me now,
is the sin of power;
not the power of sin,
but the sin of power.
that modern Christians
have sold their birthright
for a "mess of power."
We have been seduced
by the glitter
and the temporality of power;
and we have gone "a-whoring" after it.
We have sold out
our worship of a crucified Savior
for the worship of Power!
We have exchanged
the ministry of sacrifice
for the ministry of domination.
We have decided
to "be strong"
instead of meek,
instead of "the few,"
instead of the "slaughtered all the day long,"
instead of the loser.
We are determined
to be from "the right side of the tracks"
and to "look good."
The modern church has been reenergized by "power."
We stand in awe of--
the Beauty Queen,
the pro-ball player,
the wealthy businessman
and we shy away from the foot of the cross.
It was at the cross--
where the ancient Roman legionnaire,
a man that was intimate with power,
a man who daily held the power of life and death
in his hands,
a man who was a leader in the world's
most powerful and victorious army--
Yes, it was there
where that man saw Jesus die
like a lamb led to the slaughter
like a traitor to his people
and an outcast without friends
yet so authentically
while heaven and earth convulsed.
"Truly this man was the Son of God."
pay millions to anyone,
who will take our money to prove
that we are the majority,
that we are respectable,
and that we shall be successful.
these persons of power and prestige
to travel in executive private jets
of executive assistants
and press secretaries.
We give until it hurts--
to vicariously share with the great ones
as they wine and dine with presidents,
scurry from one TV studio to the next,
whisk in and out of airports
in long black limousines.
And, it isn't their fault,
we need these super-heroes.
in the worst way
that we are right
and that our side is going to win!
Instead of faith,
we ask for success.
Instead of discipleship,
we want entertainment.
Instead of a godly life,
we will settle for a good rating in the polls.
As one put it:
"In this 'dog eat dog' world everyone wants to be--
and no one is called--
to play the part of the sheep.
Yet, the world can't survive
without this living sacrifice.
Jesus came to be
to serve mankind
and suffer death sacrificially
that we might be saved.
And that we might follow
that same example ourselves
in ministry to others!
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