(The third of three parts re-posted from March 2005.)
Originally, I had described the community of Christ-followers as a counterculture, but that sounded adversarial. The term “counter” suggested revolution. I agree with Jim Peterson, “Change by revolution is almost always more destructive than constructive. It is a revolt against the prevailing system.” (Church Without Walls. Navpress, 1992. p. 215). I’m not presenting a blueprint for revolt. To be a counterculture we need only to know ourselves well enough as new creatures to be able to make Kingdom choices. That is “thinking Christianly” (The Christian Mind. Servant Books, 1978. p.44), which inevitably will run against the current of culture. Peterson calls it, “change by innovation.” I call it “transculture,” a society that transcends the norms of culture and begins to embrace the values of the coming Kingdom culture as much as possible as we wait for it to come in its fullness.
Such change requires the posing of questions: What is our place in the world? What are the implications of being spirit-born and Kingdom bound? What is truly relevant to living as a Christ-follower, and how can we creatively live as one in the world without relying on world’s systems? In other words, how do we live in the world and not be of it? If we are to be a community that is truly an alternative to the world; a kinship that provides a place of faithful example where seekers may discover, in Christ, a relationship with the Father; and a team that moves fearlessly and joyously in the world carrying the good news of Jesus, then we have to get a grip on the answer to that question.
Originally, I had intended to do a publication that addressed these ideas. I was going to grapple with the practical issues of living beside, outside and beyond systems of culture. I’ve changed my mind. I think this format might be as, if not more, effective, dynamic and personal in spite of my occasional formality in expressing ideas.
I expect I’ll be sharing an unfolding journey as I consider how to deal with systems in the world. (and I have been, although this blog has become broader and become the site for both Jody and I). For now, I’m thinking that those systems may fall into four broad categories:
- Polity.The Christ-follower and politics, government, foreign policy and law.
- Economy. How are we to live relative to issues of commerce, money, resources and ownership.
- Society. Living next to systems of education, entertainment, science health and others.
- Community. Religious systems, interpersonal relationships, personal integrity
My intent is to clarify for myself the relationship between the community of Christ- followers and the world that we are camped in so that I can learn what it means to, “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” I think we need a better understanding of the Christian species so we can be a better version of ourselves.