A Countercultural Mission

Description

Countercultural is a way of life in Jesus that runs against the grain of the world. The Christian community runs contrary to — and is distinct from — the systems and structures of power, sexuality and money.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:2a (NLT)

A walk in the woods is good for the soul. For the Kinnamans, hiking the National Parks is worshipping in cathedrals of God’s making.

It’s the spring of 2016, and my family is heading down into the Grand Canyon. Our oldest daughter forgot to pack a jacket so we do some last-minute shopping at the Grand Canyon Lodge. A young woman at the store helps us find the right merchandise. As she does, I notice she’s limping.

Sometimes data from my research company, Barna Group, pops into my head at weird times, and that was one of them. As the clerk shows us overpriced jackets, I visualize the statistic that says 52 percent of adults think praying out loud in public for a stranger is extremist.

Despite the risk of social awkwardness, I feel compelled to offer to pray for her.

“Thanks for helping us find the right size,” I say and then, after a pause in which I weigh the pros and cons, offer tentatively, “Hey, I notice you’re limping. You OK?”

“No, my leg is really sore. I went on a long hike yesterday and hurt it,” she shares. “I sort of had to come into work today.”

I nod, imagining a boss she’s trying to appease and bills she has to pay. “I know this may sound a little strange, but would you mind if I pray with you … for your leg?” I ask with as much non-aggressive conviction as I can muster.

She looks at me, head tilted, and I can tell she’s doing a mental calculation like the one I just performed. I can also feel the what-are-you-doing-Dad stare from my 12-year-old, Zack, standing beside me.

“Sure, that’d be OK with me,” she says with a sincere smile.

“Cool, let’s pray,” I say and bow my head. “God in heaven, would You please help my new friend Shannon to feel better? Her leg is causing her a lot of pain, and we know You can heal people. I am asking You to heal her and to take away her pain so she can work today. I pray this in Jesus’s Name, Amen.”

I open my eyes just before she does. She smiles again and thanks me. “Sure, no problem, you’re welcome” — kind of words tumble out. Nothing seems to have miraculously happened at that moment, but she seems grateful.

As we walk away, Zack half whispers, “Dad, we really believe this stuff, don’t we?”

Thinking back to that experience, I can’t help but believe that Christianity is meant to be at odds with purposeless, going-through-the-motions life. Although many people might think praying for a stranger in public is extreme, we have an obligation and an opportunity as Christians to be the right kind of extreme.

To proverbially keep Christianity weird.

Being “countercultural” generates many images, from eating vegan foods to composting to bell-bottoms. To me, countercultural is a way of life in Jesus that runs against the grain of the world. The Christian community, when it’s most faithful, runs contrary to — and is distinct from — the systems and structures of power, sexuality and money, among many other things. We’re called to be a counterculture for the common good.

Scripture says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2a). Let God transform you and change the way you think. This is at the heart of being countercultural.

But we’re not countercultural just for its own sake: We’re on a mission.

That the God of the universe chooses to work His mission in part through His people is astounding! He doesn’t need us to do His work, but we have the privilege of joining Him, the Master Craftsman, in the mission to reconcile the world to Himself. Why does He want us to join in the cause?

Have you ever done something you really love to do with someone close to you? Hiking is fun. Hiking with my family is even more enjoyable. God shares His grand mission with us — and wants us to live out His mission with others, too — because He loves to love with us. May we remember that the next time He gives us the opportunity to be the right kind of extreme.

Dear God, thank You for inviting me into Your mission. Continue to transform the way I think and act so I’m fully equipped to join in Your work of reconciliation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 3:30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
To learn more, visit www.FaithforExiles.com and pick up a copy of the new book Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon by David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock.

CONNECT:
Find David Kinnaman on Twitter and Facebook. And join co-author Mark Matlock on his Twitter and Facebook.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of Faith for Exiles by David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock. To celebrate this book, Baker Publishing is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and notify each one in the comments section by Monday, November 11, 2019.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Rather than copying the behaviors of this world, how might God be calling you to be transformed?

What’s one thing you can do this week to be countercultural and “keep Christianity weird”?

© 2019 by David Kinnaman. All rights reserved.

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