In a recent sermon, Greg Boyd said, “You can’t live out the Kingdom and not be countercultural.” Living the way Jesus lived will make you stand out from the crowd. You’ll definitely look weird compared to the standards of your society. Of course, for those of us who have committed our lives to serve Christ, we don’t mind the long stares, awkward conversations, or sometimes outright hostility.
We understand it comes with the territory and realize the mission of Jesus is far more important than any of that. Still, too many professing Christians want to build God’s kingdom, but they want to build their own along the way.
If your life is not countercultural, you aren’t following Jesus. I’m not questioning whether or not you believe in Him, but to follow Him means that your life will look different from those around you. I know this because everything about the way Jesus lived was radically and diametrically opposed to the norms of His own culture. People didn’t go around forgiving sins, healing sicknesses, uprooting traditions, indicting religious leaders, and hanging out with the social outcasts and undesirables. Jesus did all of that and more. He didn’t fit in. He was, simply put, a countercultural outsider.
If your life looks like that of everyone around you, you are not countercultural. You can’t live for Jesus while pursuing the “American Dream”. The two are simply not compatible. You may achieve the so-called “American Dream” while following Jesus; it’s possible, but you can’t pursue it while pursuing Jesus at the same time. Only one thing can have your undivided attention, and that must always be Jesus. Concentrate on walking in His footsteps, and if you should be blessed to acquire material possessions in this world, make certain you are a worthy steward of all that has been given to you for the purpose of building His Kingdom.
The way we talk should be different. Instead of always speaking of ourselves, we should at all times be interested in the lives of others. Rather than building a life of comfort and security, we should instead be reaching out to the poor and homeless. We should forgive everyone who wishes us or actually does us harm. We should be peacemakers, not warmongers. Above all, we should love as Jesus loved, seeing every individual as a beautiful creation of God, someone who possess unsurpassable worth in His eyes.
Being countercultural is all about rebelling against societal norms, and the most prominent norm of our day is putting our needs and desires before those of others. If you want to be countercultural like Jesus, this is the place to begin: practice loving others more than yourself. Genuinely serve them. Let them see what Jesus looks like through your words and actions. Jesus only focused on God and others, never Himself. This is what made Him countercultural. If we would follow Jesus, we must get rid of all of our self-love and turn our eyes to God and our service to others. Then we will be countercultural too.