Understanding The Nature Of Your Christian Subculture*
A fish might live over here in the water, or perhaps over there in the water, but he is destined to live in the water. Likewise, you will live in culture, either in one kind or another. But there is a subculture of sorts that you ought to seek out and join. It is unique both in its age and in its scope. And there’s no subculture as unique in these ways as the Christian “subculture”.
For comparison’s sake, let’s look at one popular subculture. There are so many to choose from so, how about environmentalism? The environmentalist subculture is not unique in its age or scope. Subcultures are by their nature defined by their gods and environmentalism is no different. They also generally exist in harmony with the larger culture. A good culture, for example, understands that protecting the environment is a good thing. But for the environmentalist the environment is a god, and as such supersedes man and deserves to be worshiped. Though not all in culture are earth-worshipping environmentalists, there is still harmony between the environmentalist and the collective cultural-mindset. For the environmentalist, the worst thing that ever happened was a strip mall.
By comparison the “subculture” of Christianity is unique in both age and scope. It is 2000 years old in one sense, but it is as old as the known existence of man if its jewish roots are considered; and they ought to be considered. In scope it is practically world wide. In most cultures there will be found a subculture of Christianity. Not so with environmentalism, which seems to afflict only a culture with enough accumulated wealth to convince itself that it can afford to alter the planet’s temperature.
And unlike environmentalism, there is no harmony between Christianity and the larger culture. While that might seem somewhat confusing at first, because the larger culture and Christianity both advocate for stewardship of the environment. But because of fundamental differences, they are at odds with each other. That’s because environmentalism is based on pointing fingers at anyone besides the self, usually large corporations and the like. The environmentalist rarely sees himself as a contributor to the environmental maladies he bemoans. It’s much easier to blame a villain painted with a broad brush. So he blames society collectively, or man in general. Christianity is the opposite. It says that if the man be fixed, society will be fixed, along with the environment.
But there is a deeper reason for the disharmony than disagreement on solving cultural problems, and it is one of authority. Christianity is therefore also unique in that it isn’t a subculture at all, but a sub-Kingdom, if you will, with Jesus as King. And as King, Jesus dictates and illuminates. He dictates in that it is His authority that determines what is right and wrong, not man’s. He illuminates in that he shines a light on the heart of man, and in that light man does not like what he sees, so he prefers instead the darkness. This is why environmentalists, and their fellow Western subcultures, find themselves irily unable to condemn Islamic cultures, who incidentally have become especially adept at turning the greenhouse-causing petroleum underneath their land into a handful of billionaires and swarms of angry zealots who promise to subject the world to Allah and his prophet, Muhammad. Islam exterminates its enemies, especially those who are in the Kingdom of God. In the end you will find that in the deepest crevices at the center of every man’s soul is the motto, “Anything but Jesus”. Man, except for those regenerated by God, is at war with God, and he will find himself with the unlikeliest of allies because of that fact.
As you are probably aware by now, there is a subculture that is more true to the definition of subculture that goes by the name “christian”. And like its counterparts, including environmentalism, it is very much in harmony with the larger culture and in rebellion against God. Unlike environmentalism, however, it is as old as Christianity itself, and scripture is by no means silent concerning these false teachers and “believers”. Be aware therefore my dear children that these are in your midst, and though they go by the same name, you will know them by their fruits. They will normally reject God’s Word and side with whatever culture is saying at a given time. Or, they will push compromise until acquiescence can be achieved. So be warned and discerning.
But here is the good part. If you are in Christ, and Christ is in you, you are a part of a Kingdom that transcends borders and cultures. You will have brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world, and you will find it easy to fellowship and to love these brothers and sisters. You will know them because of their submission to and their love for their King. He will be preeminent in every part of their lives. They will not be according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. In short, they will not worship sheetrock, pop-stars, fancy cars, or the environment… to name just a few. What the King is doing now will be their number one interest, as they seek to be a part of his activity. You will feel a kinship again which the barriers of differing culture will not prevail.
I pray that you would everyday grow in your knowledge of Jesus, that you would walk closer to him as you cast off your entanglements from whatever culture you find yourself immersed in. I pray for you, and for me, that we are able to be a light in this dark world, that Jesus would use us to snatch some, if not many, from the flames.