a subversive statement
a counter-cultural act
that stands in defiance
Christians have lost a lot of ground over the last several decades, this is reflected in the changing teachings coming from the church. Generations ago, Christianity would have never talked about sending a subversive statement, doing counter-cultural acts, or standing in defiance to cultural norms or governmental regulations. It would have been counter-productive to do so as the church was the authority that had a lot of power in both settings. The church had cultural power to set the norms by which people were to live, so instructing people to defy them would be telling them to defy the church. The church had a lot of pull with the government as well. In days gone by, Blue Laws existed that closed down every business on Sundays so that everybody could go to church. What the church preached because the popular belief that set the tone of which laws would be passed. So there was no need to be subversive, counter-cultural, or defiant as it would have hurt the power and authority of the church.
Today, everywhere I look, there are dozens of speakers pushing for a more conservative theology that urge people to be different from the world in a way that wouldn’t have happened in the past. Without the power to set the cultural norms, the church instructs believers to defy the cultural norms that now exist. Cultural norms are more or less the majority belief of that which is acceptable, as shaped by mass-media such as television, music, magazines, and books. We’re a more equal, more respectful, and more dignified society than we have been in generations past partially because of the principles of Christian teachings that permeate all areas of our life. I was thinking about how many social revolutions were not carried out in the 1960s because they weren’t ready for them. We’re ready for them now.
There is a need to be subversive, counter-cultural, and defiant, most of all in the church that has lost it’s way. The church that has allied itself with the Republican party has lost sight of it’s savior – Jesus. The church that has built a system by which scandals can be hidden needs to be undermined. The church that has more love for money than for people must be defied. This culture of Christianity needs to be challenged and revealed for the core of what it really is: corrupt and drunk on power. The last thing this church needs is for people to feed it’s addiction by obeying them and giving them back the power they lost to set cultural norms and guide the laws being passed. A Christianity with that much power can only mean trouble for those who are outsiders and out of favor with them and their allies who run everything else.
The Bible tells us to obey the governing authorities over us. It tells us to listen to religious leaders but to not do as they do when they are being hypocritical. Jesus tells us that in his kingdom, leadership is up-side down. That’s the part that we still haven’t gotten quite right. We might call it ‘servant leadership’ but it’s something that can be made to look like anything one needs it to for the moment. I remember reading about how in Prince Caspian the character of Peter was praised for his ‘servant leadership’. What he did was show up and start giving out commands – it wasn’t until his pride got everyone else killed in a trap that he was immensely humbled. That’s what concerns me about the more toxic elements of Christianity. It never once seems to occur to their servant leaders that they’re doing it wrong in a way that will cost lives – if not actual lives, then spiritual ones as droves of people flee from the churches that burnt or wounded them.
For far too long, Christianity has had far too much power. It is only when all of this power is completely surrendered and laid down at the feet of Jesus can we truly see what damage we’ve done with it. Only then can we begin to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who resisted the lure of power at every turn.