Western culture, and specifically American culture is addicted to three things that drive daily life:
Then think about the last time we actually talked about these things in our churches. It seems to me that the primary message that the church is offering people is about how the Gospel can add prestige, power and possessions to our lives. And those who challenge that thought are judged as negative ninnies.
I've come to see that these three cultural patterns were also promoted by Pharaoh in Egypt and thereby dominated the slaves. These are the ways of life of Babylon. These are also the ways of the Roman Empire, against which the early Christians stood offering an alternative way of life.
Are we afraid to identify the ways of the dominant culture in the West, the ways that idolize success, control and money. If we don't identify them, how will we disciple people in the ways of the Kingdom. More often than not, we end up putting a Gospel-sounding message on top of the ways of our dominant culture. We do a pretty good job of informing people about the basic tenants of the faith, and we tell people how to live morally-upright lives. But we must also confront the ways of life that determine the rules of life in our secular, normal, day-to-day activities.
But it's not just about confronting the ways of the dominant culture. It also means that we offer a contrasting alternative.
- Instead of fighting for prestige where we try to climb on top, we offer hospitality where we use our time to invest in others.
- Instead of power where we try to wield our influence, we offer forgiveness where we release others from any debt owed because of wrongs done.
- Instead of the pursuit of possessions, we offer generosity where what we have is used to bless others.