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…