Within every culture, there are those who spit in the face of the status quo and blaze their own trail. Then there are the multitudes: the vast majority who look alike, sound alike, and pursue almost identical goals.

Everyone likes to think of themselves as counter-culture. It has always seemed cool to be unlike everyone else.

When I was young, I quickly realized that I was a nerd. It’s necessary to make the distinction that I was not a “geek,” which is a slightly more endearing term. I was a nerd. I liked Star Trek and Star Wars. I was as interested in Michael Jordan’s statistical analysis as I was in his jaw-dropping highlights. I didn’t realize how odd most of this was until I was made aware that I sat at the “Nintendo table” at school. Today, almost every male aged 10-34 plays video games, but in the early 90s, it was still mostly the dominion of the dweebs. I was a nerd, and I was suddenly aware of it. I became addicted to games like SimCity and Civilization II, where I created my own kingdoms and wreaked havoc upon the minions that inhabited my nation. The weird thing about it all? I was kind of proud to be a nerd.

When I became older, I finally discovered my love for Apple’s Mac computers. I bought an early iBook, and have never looked back. I’ve brought 60 people into the Mac realm, with 59 of them now being Mac-centric Apple fanboys, and the remaining one just not caring enough about anything tech-related. When I first bought my iBook, I was the only college student in any of my classes that didn’t have a Dell, HP, or Gateway. It made me feel special. I felt different. I know that’s a little self-congratulatory, but we all need to feel special from time to time.

I didn’t like Macs because they were different — I liked them because I thought they were better. The same applies to all of our perceived preferences. But when we realize that we’re standing out because of our interests, it makes us think of them a bit differently. They’re not just something we like; they set us apart, and that comes with a realization of peculiarity that can feel isolating or privileged, depending on our mindset.

Living a Christian lifestyle in an increasingly godless society has placed many of us in a position that we never thought possible in a so-called Christian nation: we are now the outsiders (cue NEEDTOBREATHE song). A nation that was founded upon Christian virtues and principles has begun pushing Christians from positions of prominence into the closet.

  • Worldly culture dictates that the Word of God is not to be taken literally.
  • Christian culture maintains that the Bible is the inspired, fully true Word of God.
  • Worldly culture dictates that divorce is perfectly acceptable for struggling couples.
  • Christian culture maintains that divorce destroys lives and is frowned upon by God.
  • Worldly culture dictates that sex before marriage is to be encouraged.
  • Christian culture maintains that the marriage bed is sacred.
  • Worldly culture dictates that success is to be largely determined by material possessions and status.
  • Christian culture maintains that true success is found only in a life lived for Jesus Christ.
  • Worldly culture dictates that there are many ways to Heaven.
  • Christian culture maintains that salvation is found in no one else but Jesus (Acts 4:12).
  • Worldly culture dictates that the universe, this planet, and humanity itself was an unlikely accident.
  • Christian culture maintains that we were created by a loving God for a specific purpose.
  • Worldly culture dictates that pleasure in any form is paramount.
  • Christian culture maintains that where we spend eternity is paramount.

For those who do not rationalize the Bible as only a philosophical work of literature…the statutes, principles, and teachings it offers hold true in 2011 just as they did in 33 AD. I have tested the Word of God in my own life, and I find it holds steady and true. When we follow the plan set in His Word, we are the ultimate counter-culture mavens, living by faith.

Years ago, I attended a large youth conference in which a preacher took a quote from Audio Adrenaline singer Mark Stuart wildly out of context. He blasted Stuart for saying (I’m paraphrasing because the article is no longer archived on the web – Newsweek: Jesus Rocks!), “Christianity has always been about rebellion.” What the preacher failed to include is Stuart’s clarification: “…rebellion against popular culture.” Stuart went on to describe how Jesus’ teachings were rejected by the religious leaders of His time, and how the message He preached was unpopular with many. Stuart was absolutely right. Jesus wasn’t even accepted by His own hometown. Jesus taught people that instead of taking an eye for an eye, turn the other cheek when struck by a brother. This was radical thinking!

We are different, but we’re not different so that we can feel special. We are different because we are following a different path. Our lives our not ordered by secular humanism, but by God’s Word. And just like I felt compelled to convert Windows users to Mac OSX, every Christian MUST have the desire to spread the news of what God has done in our lives, and encourage others to follow the same path. I mentioned earlier that recognition of our distinction will make us feel either isolated or privileged. I hope that every Christian realizes how privileged we are.

Our differences must not make us arrogant, but desperate — desperate to share this counter-culture message of faith, hope, and love. That is our mission, and if it makes us a little “weird,” then so be it. We’re just a little different.

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)

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2 thoughts on “Counter-Culture

  1. Nate says:

    Great post Ryan! I always enjoy reading your viewpoint, it’s always a breath of fresh air.

    Nate Whitley

  2. I appreciate that, Nate. Many thanks!

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