Tuesday, March 14, 2006

When to be Countercultural

I find it curious that as evangelicals we get so confused about when to be cultural, and when to be countercultural. Let me explain....

As citizens of both the cultic and cultural kingdoms, it would seem obvious that our behavior should be (to some extent) consistent with whatever kingdom we happen to be operating in at the moment.

So when I'm engaging in cultural activity Monday through Saturday -- like working or playing baseball -- I am doing so alongside believers and nonbelievers alike. There's nothing odd or unique about it. But when I am participating in cultic activity on the Lord's Day -- such as hearing the Word preached or eating the Supper -- what I am doing is completely distinct, strange, and countercultural.

Here's the interesting part, though: Evangelicalism teaches us to try as hard as we can to stand out from the crowd while at work, at school, or at play. In other words, in the cultural kingdom, be countercultural.

But then on Sunday we experience a change of heart, and pull out all stops in order to make divine worship as comfortable and non-threatening as we can for unbelievers. Or, in the countercultural kingdom, be cultural.

So we buy Christian T-shirts ("This Blood's For You!") and put IXOYE fishes on our cars, but when we go to church on Sunday we're embarassed if we bring our unbelieving neighbor on a week where we sing "Be Thou My Vision" and to top it all off, celebrate Communion.

I'm all for being weird, as long as we do it at the right time, and in the right kingdom.