“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~Romans 12:2 (NRSV).
A significant portion of the world expects Christians to be anti-homosexual, judgmental, hypocritical, old-fashioned, too political, boring, and insensitive to others. (For more on this, click here.)
That’s modern Christianity’s culture for so many.
This is a perplexing burden for any serious Christian; called to evangelise a world immune to Jesus’ love because of these distractive elements that go against the Kingdom purpose.
We meditate over verses like the one above and we know we must repent and turn to the truth—a change of mind toward a literal metamorphosis of attitude compelling a transformation in behaviour.
But we sit on a knife’s edge.
We go too far in our processes of counterculture and we turn people off the faith. More than once we may have been criticised—even by fellow believers—for being overly zealous; in simply obeying the Lord.
When is love, love? Ask the other person how it feels and we may know.
A New Counterculture
A simple faith is a good faith, through and through. But even the simple can become complex.
When we read Romans 12:2, meditating over it, allowing it to permeate our deeper consciousness into the subconscious, we can understand it suggesting we need to strive for perfect discernment (not that we’ll sustainably achieve that). As our commitment to thinking differently takes sufficient root we will know, having access to, the situational will of the Lord.
What this means, in a very practical sense, is we might more often bring glory to the Father in Jesus’ name, by finding close to the exact balance of what each moment requires. Discernment, it’s hoped, precedes acts of obedience. This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:16 when he said (in the NRSV):
“... let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
We can see just how important it is to discern correctly, in the wisdom of what is right, just, and fair, in each situation.
Where we miss the mark our light dims to pitch. But, when we do discern the will of the Lord, and are mature enough to comply, we may beat the prevailing counterculture—of negativity against Christianity—and create the appropriate counterculture: glory conveyed to God.
And instead of being seen as anti-homosexual, judgmental, hypocritical, old-fashioned, too political, boring, or insensitive to others, we may be seen as compassionate, humble, patient, fair-minded, respectful, and even wise (not that we would ever be comfortable self appropriating those terms).
The Christian counterculture has damaged the name and purpose of the church, Christ, Christians, and Christianity because it goes too far by arguing the truth without sufficient love.
A new counterculture—the Father’s original design—one enshrined in compassion, kindness, and a thousand other flavours of courage-emblazoned love—is available at the discernment of God’s will.
We will know when we have it right, for the results—generally so—will speak for themselves. We will see the living God active in this world, through us. And blessing will occur.
Central to this is bearing our crosses—just as our perfect model, Jesus, did.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.