The Standard June 16, 2022
“Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I hate you. We need to relearn that in our society.” This timely quote, attributed to a few different sources, warrants consideration. Why in our culture are we frequently encouraged to assume that if a person treats others with love and respect yet disagrees with them about some current issue, the person actually harbors deep-down hate for them? On the other hand, why do we too often think that if someone hangs out with a friend or quotes them or says positive things about their good characteristics that their beliefs completely align? Surely, it is healthy to have friends with whom we disagree. Does any human relationship ever involve 100% agreement? Our friends and families might disapprove of certain actions we take or things we believe, but hopefully still love us.
More and more it seems like Christians and people of other faiths are expected to celebrate actions which they believe are contrary to God’s design or purpose and to say things which they deem to be untrue. This should not be. On the other hand, followers of Christ should not expect that everyone will understand or want to live by biblical standards.
Despite our differing values, Jesus taught us to love God first and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We must treat everyone with dignity, even those who do not hold our convictions. It is likely that our beliefs and values will sound unusual to many. Self-denial, for example, is not a popular theme currently. Mutual respect and tolerance are important for everyone.
It would be difficult to encapsulate how countercultural Jesus was. Prevailing ideas and practices did not define how he lived. Jesus was empathetic to the woman caught in adultery, for example. He rescued her from physical harm yet did not leave her to continue in soul-crushing patterns. Jesus told her to leave her life of sin. How would his message be received today?
Scripture teaches that there is truth and that Christ-followers should abide in God. The world won’t understand all of our ways, but how we treat our neighbors should stand out and capture its attention. By virtue of the disconnect between God’s ways and our natural ways, every Christian should be a countercultural Christian.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24) “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32)
Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)