The Counter-Culturalism of Christianity
Hebrews 11:24–28 24By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter when he grew up. 25He chose to be mistreated with God’s people rather than enjoy sin for a little while. 26He considered disgrace for the sake of Christ as greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
27By faith he left Egypt without fearing the king’s wrath, because he persevered as one who sees him who is invisible.
28By faith he celebrated the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not strike them down.
The 1960s were a period when long-held values and morality seemed to break down, particularly among the adolescents and young adults. Many college-age men and women pushed back against the perceived “Establishment” of previous generations. Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and antiwar protests were badges of belonging.
Radicals and hippies urged people to kick down “Victorian” and “Puritanical” restraints on their freedoms and behaviors. The results were free sex, living together, birth control pills, unwed mothers, feminism, increased divorce and abortion.
The countercultural revolution has changed people’s behaviors over the following decades.
The irony is that those counter-cultural views are now in the majority. Gay marriage has been legalized by the Supreme Court and every TV show must have one gay character. Living together outside of marriage, divorce, and single parenthood are the new normal. LGBTQ groups run roughshod over anyone who disagrees with their movement.
The counterculture of the 1960s and early 70s has become gradually become part of the established American culture.
Recently, Disney announced that they will have their first openly gay character in a movie. The Left lambasted Disney for having a very-not-gay actor playing the role of a gay man in their movie. The Left hounded Scarlett Johansson out of a role of a transgender man because a transgender character in a movie should be played by a transgender man.
In DC Comics, Batwoman is a Jewish lesbian superhero. The actress cast to play Batwoman in a new TV series has described herself as once being a lesbian, but now she is “gender fluid”. So, the Left has attacked her for not being Jewish or “gay enough” for the role.
All of this is happening among the Left, the liberals, those who were once counter-cultural.
All this goes to show that what was once counter-cultural is now the culture!
This is where biblical Christianity comes in. Christianity is the new counterculture. We Christians are the underground resistance. We are pushing back against the “Establishment” of idolatry, sex, and decadence. We are winning people because we can demonstrate that we worship a King bigger than fashion. We follow principles that are timeless and not trendy. We still believe in sin and salvation, hell and heaven, wrath and redemption.
Moses was certainly countercultural. He refused all the treasures and pleasures that being Egyptian royalty would have afforded him.
Moses was an Israelite born into slavery in Egypt and should have never lived past a few weeks. Pharaoh had ordered the midwives to drown any baby boy born to Israelite parents. But, in faith, Moses’ parents hid him for months. When they couldn’t keep the cooing and crying kid quiet any longer, Moses’ mother put him into a papyrus basket and floated him down the Nile River.
Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing in the river at that time. She took this baby out of the basket and took him home to the palace. She raised him as her own son.
Instead of building pyramids and monuments as a slave, Moses was an Egyptian prince who built toy pyramids with golden Legos. He received the best education and ate the finest foods. His adopted mother prepared him for a life of leadership, filled with the power and prestige of the Pharaoh.
But, Moses was able to look past all the pomp and circumstance of his adopted family, and know that, in the end, all of it was meaningless. He said “no” to it all. His God had something better for him than the temporary pleasures of this life. “By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter when he grew up. He chose to be mistreated with God’s people rather than enjoy sin for a little while. He considered disgrace for the sake of Christ as greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
I don’t think any other Christian recorded in history gave up as much from the world as Moses did.
Jesus taught, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Do you take Moses’ actions and Jesus’ words to heart as you live your Christianity in our current culture? We assume that we can stay faithful to Christ, while at the same time indulging in everything the world has to offer. But, the more we take advantage of the world, the more the world takes advantage of us. Before we know it, we are the ones who have been infected by the world and so we are no longer affected by our Christian morals and upbringing. Soon, we are the disciples who are leaving Jesus because His presence and teachings offend us.
Be in the world, not of the world. Christ denied wealth, power, and the pleasures of this world for you. He lived righteously and paid the penalty for your sins in this world. Now, through faith in Christ, you don’t have to live the ways of the world. Because you have the Holy Spirit living inside you, for the sake of Christ, you can be a modern-day Moses. You can accept disgrace and give up the treasures and pleasures, the immoralities and vices of the world. Look forward to the greater treasures of forgiveness, salvation, and heaven that Christ won for you. They are the reward that Christ earned for you on the cross and in the grave.
When Moses was 40 years old, he had a raging desire to liberate his Israelite people. He killed an Egyptian guard who was beating a Hebrew slave. His efforts to cover up his murder failed, and when word reached Pharaoh, Moses had to flee for his life. Moses, however, trusted in the unseen. “By faith he left Egypt without fearing the king’s wrath, because he persevered as one who sees him who is invisible.”
Moses left the comfortable life to live in Midian, in the desert. There he served as a shepherd for 40 years, until the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a burning bush and sent Moses back to Egypt. He persevered as one who daily saw the invisible God.
Our situation is no different. We live in the spiritual wasteland of this world. Christ is invisible to us. However, Christ has shown Himself to us in the Scriptures that testify about Him. Jesus promises to be with us wherever two or three are gathered in His name. He promises to be with us, even to the end of the age. He promises, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
God’s invisible presence gives us courage when the crowds are against us. His promise of presence gives us confidence to preach His truth in the public square. His abiding presence gives us comfort when our friends and family shun us for our Christian convictions.
Moses acted as if he already stood in the halls of heaven and had seen the face of his Savior God. In other words, he acted as a Christian ought to act, knowing that heaven is already his. We know heaven is ours, too. Christ has promised it. We have every reason to act as though we have already stood in heaven. The Invisible One is with you. That’s what faith does. It listens to and clings to the promises of God. We live like our heavenly future is our earthly present.
When we start living like that, what do you think that looks like in our current culture?!
The angel of the Lord sent Moses back to the palace of Pharaoh. Moses knew what kind of man Pharaoh was. There’s a possibility that he even grew up with this king of Egypt. Moses certainly saw firsthand how Pharaoh hardened his heart to the nine plagues that the Lord sent upon Egypt. Pharaoh was stubborn as a mule, and apparently twice as dumb. While his country was covered with stink and rot and blood, he sulked and refused to accept that he was fighting against something bigger and more powerful than himself or his false Egyptian gods.
“By faith he celebrated the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not strike them down.” The Passover meal was the last meal that Moses and the Israelites ate in Egypt. The next day they marched southeast out of Egypt as free people. The meal of roasted lamb and the lambs’ blood painted on the doors saved their lives.
Though we don’t celebrate the Passover meal anymore, we still celebrate the Passover Lamb. He is Jesus Christ, the perfect Passover Lamb. None of His bones were broken as He hung on Calvary’s cross. His shed blood turns away the avenging angel. His holy, righteous blood atones for our sins. We kneel to eat the Passover Lamb’s flesh and drink His blood. Christ has defeated Hell’s Pharaoh. We partake of His victory feast in every Lord’s Supper.
Our sacrificial Christ and His holy Supper are ridiculed by our world. The world has no concept of who Christ is, what He has done for us, and certainly it knows nothing about what Christ gives us in His holy meal. Yet, that doesn’t mean we should shrink back from Christ or His Supper. It means that we should invite more people to celebrate the victory of the Lamb of God. Introduce them to their Savior, so that the Holy Spirit can paint them with the Lamb’s blood. Then, they, like us, will not be struck down by the destroyer.
Liberal thinking has worked diligently over the years to bring the most abhorrent behaviors into our homes. Whether that be living together or homosexuality or abortion or foul language or whatever. Liberal thinking works first to get us as a society to tolerate the behavior. Then to accept the behavior. Then that behavior becomes dominant. We dare not speak out against it.
The counter-culturalism of the 60s has become the Establishment.
We could lose our tax-exempt status as a church if we don’t perform a gay wedding. We could lose members if we confront them with their sin of sex outside of marriage. We could appear that we are waging a war on women if we speak out against the murder of the unborn.
If you cower under the pressures of society to conform, then Christianity is not for you.
If you believe that the Church should be more progressive and change with the times – more freedom, less Commandments; more casual, less liturgy; more social causes, less ancient creeds – then, perhaps, Christianity is not for you.
However, if you see that Christianity has become counter-cultural, then Christianity is for you.
Our culture has difficulty seeing that just because something may be legal, that does not mean that it is moral. We must not let the world dull our senses or lull us into a spiritual slumber. Christ and His Word comes to us to set up a congregation that is countercultural. She is devoted only to her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. She hears no other suitors.
If you are ready to suffer disgrace for the sake of Christ, then Christianity is for you.
If you are ready to give up the treasures of this world because you are looking forward to the treasures Christ has stored for you in heaven, then Christianity is for you.
If you persevere because you see with the eyes of faith the Invisible One who is always with you, then Christianity is for you.
If you celebrate the perfect Passover Lamb by being sprinkled with His forgiving blood, then Christianity is for you.
If you see that America is crumbling under the weight of her own sin, then Christianity is for you. The snare of the great dragon is becoming increasingly tighter. Yet, you believe in a Savior who has expelled the dragon. He is the One who removes the weight of sin and can lead a nation to repentance.
If you see that God’s Word should not change to fit society, then Christianity is for you. You believe that God’s Word is living and active. It does not change to fit the times. Rather, God’s Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It does change. Rather, it changes hearts, redeems lives, and saves souls. When that happens, then lifestyles change. Then culture changes.
Like Moses, we then become countercultural. Amen.