“You want to save America? Here’s the plan. This is the play we need to run, on three. Love your wife. Respect and obey your husband. Control your temper. Stop drinking so much. Learn to be as precise and as honest in your business dealings as a person can be. Get your kids a Christian education. Bring your family to church, every week bring them to church. Throw yourself into your Bible reading. Sing psalms. Laugh at the theocratic pretenses of mortal men. Eat the fat and drink the sweet. Mow your lawn. Have a cold beer afterwards.”Douglas Wilson
Last week I was pondering the big picture question “what’s a Christian to do?” in this topsy-turvy world of ours, so when I read this quote the other day from Doug Wilson, I had mixed reactions. It seems kind of tongue-in-cheek at first, but he seems to be unmasking a big hang up of ours: many of us aren’t actually doing foundational things, and if the foundation is shaky, there’s no real hope for much else to be built. It’s not cliché to say that it starts with the home and family, at the heart-level, and if we only have a game plan that addresses ‘someday’, how do we know what to do this day?
The challenge for Christians now is that our foundational beliefs have become quite counter-cultural. When you let the foundation slide, the whole thing comes down after it. Here are some things he addresses that struck me:
Taking the fam to church is counter-cultural. I don’t mean zoom church. I mean waking up, putting pants on, and driving to church to see and hear and commune with actual people. This isn’t always easy, the enemy doesn’t want us there. The kid has a sporting event scheduled. The entire family seems bent on fighting before they ever walk out the door. Heck, the government doesn’t even want us gathering at this point… and so I say we must go. The first time I was back in church after the shut downs, I cried. Our music director cried. Our pastor walked to the back of the church and just stared at the bodies in the seats because it was such a sight. We’ve been told otherwise this past year, but gathering is normal, and it is healthy.
Being in community is counter-cultural. One of my fears is that in one short year, we have created a whole generation petrified of physical closeness, convinced they can do life over a computer and have the same end results. It’s a lie. The Church with a capital C has met for millennia in dire circumstances and thrived. Isolation is straight from the enemy’s playbook, and convincing people they are safer when alone is a lie we have to stand up to boldly. My high-schooler goes to youth group on Sunday nights with his friends in a barn. Not like a Chip and Joanna Gaines shiplap-clad ‘farmhouse chic’ kind of thing, but an actual barn, with animals and smells and dirt. He goes because a group of kids at school decided to gather and study the Word and worship together and they invited him. It’s an answered prayer. He wants to be with other believers. He’s beginning to see how the body of Christ is meant to work together.
Not indulging every feeling is counter-cultural. The phone bings and rings and beeps and we drop everything to check it. Someone rubs us the wrong way and we need to have the last word. We give social media way more of our time than we should. The temptation to cut corners and indulge our flesh is big. I love how he says in one breath, ‘stop drinking so much!’ and then wraps up with ‘go have a beer already.’ Well, which is it? It’s the idea that apart from God, everyday feelings and habits become big, ugly idols. God really does want us to enjoy our lives, but He also reminds us to ‘take every thought captive’ by not blindly following everything that pops into our heads. Excess makes us unhealthy… from phones to exercise to work, none of it fulfills in the end. The Bible is always clear on this… everything in it’s proper order and within God’s boundaries is a good thing. Work is good, and enjoying the fruits of our labor is a blessing. So we aren’t led around by our feelings all the time, but by the Spirit. We say ‘no’ to things that don’t glorify God, even when everyone around us celebrates them. I love what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.”
In short, just living with basic Biblical principles is counter-cultural. I love all the ideas here, big and small. Be precise and be honest with your words. Have an imperfect family that loves the Lord and knows at the very least where to turn when things go sideways. Better yet, have an imperfect family that is surrendered and joyful in everyday life. Do you and yours know that God’s Word is truth and the truth sets us free? You’re in good shape! If you haven’t noticed, simply accepting basic truths about life are enough to set you apart these days! Hold loosely to things of the world and go big after Jesus. We may not realize it, but this is living out the Gospel. Embracing the basics gives us momentum for bigger things, which is great, but those things are up to God. If we could stop trying to squeeze results out of a culture that has abandoned the Gospel and just start living out the good news in our own little lives, the ripple effect would be larger than we think.
I love when a friend throws some ingredients in a crock pot and invites people over for fellowship without worrying about appearances. Having the fam sit down to a set table and dinner a couple times a week in the midst of activities is good for everyone. When young people put effort into a worship service in a barn… when women carve out time week after week to join in Bible study… these little things form us more than we realize.
The Gospel is a funny paradox of “the work has been done” and “there is now work to do”. Jesus paid it all for us on the cross. Nobody can boast, earn or work their way into the Kingdom. We are saved whether we control our temper or not. But being alive in Christ changes us! We get to go make disciples, we want to be about His work here on earth… and it has to start somewhere.
It’s a fine line we walk, and nobody does it perfectly, but I think these are some tangible things that can give the Body of Christ some much-needed direction and purpose in a world that seems bent on erasing everything we hold dear.
If we would ‘run this play’ as Wilson suggests… how many headlines would change? How many tragedies would never even take place? It all starts in the hearts of men. We’ll never be able to legislate goodness into people, heaven knows we try and fail at that… but we can and we must lead them to the Source of all good things. Jesus changes hearts, and changed hearts are powerful.
What kinds of things are on your counter-cultural list?