Monday, April 9, 2018

The Counter-Cultural Way of Jesus

Each Sunday morning, we gather together to do a number of things that our modern, Western world would consider extremely strange. We get up early on a weekend morning, rather than resting and relaxing. We head to church instead of the ski hill or hiking trail. We read from a book written thousands of years ago--insistent on its contemporary relevance. We sing songs together--aloud--despite the fact that most of us would feel too self-conscious to even sing in the shower. And then, essentially, we sit and listen to a live podcast. I'm perfectly aware of the strangeness of our Sunday gatherings.

But, even weirder than worship, is the fact that we gather together at all. So much of our world is steeped in solitude and isolation. We work from home, we barely know our neighbors, and the vast majority of our social networking happens through a tiny computer we store in our pockets or purses.

So, perhaps the most counter-cultural aspect of church isn't our devotion to a murdered prophet who rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, but the fact that we would actually gather together, with our peers, to deeply and intentionally share our lives with each other.

It's just not something our culture does. We don't bare our souls. We don't share our secrets and struggles. We don't seek counseling, even when we need it. We keep it to ourselves.

I've been reminded of this fact twice now in the last half hour, as I'm sitting at McDonalds doing my work. First, when I went to order, they now want me to order and pay at a kiosk, rather than from an employee at the counter. It seems like a strange and non-social business decision. And then, later, when an employee was walking around making small-talk with the customers and seeing if he could assist them in any way, I found myself annoyed that he was interrupting my writing.

You got that, right?! I'm actually upset about having to talk with someone...while writing an article about needing to be more communal!

In our isolated and privatized world, the communal nature of Jesus and his church is incredibly counter-cultural. So, may we be willing to embrace the communal calling of Jesus--to actually know our neighbors in a way that we can show them love. May we be increasingly open and vulnerable with one another as we commit to sharing each other's loads and bearing each other's burdens. May our openness, honesty, and vulnerability with one another be a public testimony to a new way of being human--a way that embodies the counter-cultural way of Jesus.

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