When you read the Gospels, have you ever noticed how often Jesus disturbed the sensibilities of the people around Him?
- Matthew 8:28-34; Jesus heals two demon possessed men and the evicted demons send a whole heard of pigs charging to their deaths. The people in the region are so freaked out by this they beg Him to leave immediately.
- Matthew 12:9-14; Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath in total defiance of the religious leaders. The result is that those same religious leaders start plotting to destroy Him.
- Mark 2:1-11; Jesus proclaims that a crippled man’s sins are forgiven. The religious leaders nearby accuse Him of blasphemy in their hearts. So Jesus heals the man to prove His authority. The crowd around Him is amazed.
- Luke 7:36-50; Jesus is having a meal at a religious leader’s home. A hooker comes in and throws herself at His feet; kissing them, crying on them, and wiping them with her hair. The religious leader is convinced that Jesus is not a godly man because He was allowing a whore to touch Him like that. Jesus rebukes the man in his own home for his lack of love for God and then forgives the woman of all her sins.
- John 4:1-45; Jesus is tired and thirsty and strikes up a conversation with a woman at a well. She is a Samaritan woman with a horrible reputation. Jesus shares the truth about Himself with her and she tells the whole city about it. His disciples find him there and are amazed that He is talking to someone they were taught to despise because of her race and gender.
Jesus lived a life that needed explaining. It was counter-cultural, it was filled with the ethic of the Kingdom and was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before.
You see people in the Gospels saying and thinking things like; “Who is this man?” “On what authority do you do these things?” “Who does He think He is?!”
You can look at the life of the apostle Paul and see the same thing. In Acts 17:6 for example he was numbered among men who had “turned the world upside down.”
An Anglican bishop once wrote;
Why is it that wherever Paul went they had a revolution and wherever I go they have tea?
I feel like the bishop, not the apostle. How about you?
Granted, we are talking about the Son of God and the great apostle Paul here. Who am I compared to these two? Surely I cannot expect to live a life like that, right?
The Bible says in James 5:17-18 that the great prophet Elijah, the one who lead the slaughter of hundreds of pagan prophets and prayed for rain to disappear from the land for three years, was no different than you or me. In the 11th chapter of Hebrews you find a roll call of ordinary men and women of faith who lived lives of such passion and joy and power for God it demanded an explanation.
You and I live in a culture that demands conformity. We are taught early on that we need to fit in, get along, be a team player, don’t rock the boat, and be just like everyone else. We learn our lesson well and we translate it to our lives as Christians to the point where it becomes very difficult for people to know if we are followers of Christ, or just really nice folks.
I can’t remember the last time I acted in a way that was so counter-cultural that somebody demanded an explanation. That breaks my heart.
Following Christ IS counter-cultural and living in obedience to Him will turn things upside down. Take a look at The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and ask yourself; “What if I really lived like this? What would that mean?”
What do you think? What about the way a follower of Christ lives would demand an explanation from the world around him or her?