Us vs. Ourselves
When I was young my parents made a list of TV shows we weren’t allowed to watch; The Simpsons, because Bart was a jerk, He-Man and The Smurfs because they used magic, G.I. Joe because it was too violent… When I got older a youth pastor gave me a poster that has a list of popular bands on one side and the “christian” alternative band on the other; If you like such and such you should listen to so and so… For my 15th birthday I got a t-shirt that had the Abercrombie & Fitch logo that actually said ‘A Breadcrumb & Fish’… Is this what the Bible means when it says to be in the world but not of it?
Stand back and take a look… the Christians and non all look the same, the music, the clothes, the magazines, books… Christians and non all drive the same cars, live in the same houses, eat in the same restaurants, think the same thoughts, download the same porn. As Christians we tell ourselves that we are living the life because we have bible verses on our t shirts and a jesus fish on the mini van. After a while we build our own christian sub-culture, we look at the “sinners” around us and say to ourselves “if they like it, it’s wrong” and we rid ourselves of it in the name of holiness. We only listen to “christian” music, read “christian” romance novels, wear “christian” t shirts, and look down our “christian” noses at our poor lost neighbors and think, “if only they would start wearing t shirts like mine…”
Jesus used the phrase “whitewashed tombs” to describe folks who think their efforts make them holy; clean on the outside, crumbling and decomposing on the inside. The Pharisees of Jesus day had their t shirts as well, they had their list of TV shows and musicians to avoid, the foods they were all to proud to not be eating. When it came right down to it, their “churchy” subculture did nothing more than feed their pride while the naked hooker, crying in the dirt at the feet of Jesus was heart-wide-open before the very throne of God. Nothing hidden. Nothing fake. Beyond the rescue of lies and fig leaves.
When we talk about The Church and The Culture we are talking about this glorious tiny point in space and time where holiness meets profanity, where the bride of Christ stands up and starts brushing off the dirt, where she drops the filthy, tattered rags she wore on the street corner and puts on a dress so white it blinds the world!
It isn’t the job of the church to run from “culture”, or to make our own little bubble within the world where we’re all home schooled, make our own clothes and churn butter; it’s the churches job to accept the harsh reality of what we were, what we are, and share this gospel, the fantastic life-changing truth with those who are still far off, those who have not heard that there is a dress waiting for them, a Grace, ice cold rushing water that can wash them clean and stand them before the almighty God, blameless and full of joy! Culture isn’t to be avoided, embraced or mimicked. Culture is this process of who we are, becoming who we will be. The Church isn’t outside of the culture, she is completely entangled in it. Christians aren’t better than the rest, no matter what their t shirts say. Christians are people. All The Church has to do to change the world is to remember that we are all in this together.