In the late 1960’s various sociologists, behaviorists, and leaders in academia took note of how my generation rejected many of our parent’s generation’s norms and traditions. Theodore Rozak introduced the term counter culture-in his book The Making of a Counter Culture. Major shifts in the American culture and attitudes occurred as those of my generation moved into places of authority and influence. Not everything that followed was good . . . but then again not all of it was bad either. As I look back on it, I realize that morals dipped to a new low for individuals, but collectively there were some gains on the moral front. The ‘free love’ thinking, the ‘If it feels good, do it mentality,’ Woodstock and war protests, and the lure of illegal drugs resulted in serious problems for many individuals and families, but that generation went to work on addressing the sinful treatment of Americans of color.
My generation had a large impact on the world in several regards . . . morals, policies, practices, norms, behaviors, culture, education, and music.
Do you know that the Church, in many ways, has always been called to a counter-culture movement? When Jesus prayed in John 17 that His followers would be In the world, but not Of the world, He set the Church on a counter-cultural course. He called for His followers to have holy attitudes and Godly lifestyles that run counter to the self-centered, selfish life styles prevalent in in worldly culture. Paul wrote in Galatians 5:24, “Now those who belong to Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
It is a sad commentary of the Church that many individuals and congregations do not strive to live up to this high calling. Sadly, rather than serving as a counter-cultural force in the world, we are looking like the world . . . more and more. Studies show that there is little difference in areas such as divorce and common-law cohabitation between Church members and non-Churched folks. There is unquestionably a steady increase in the acceptance by Church folks of premarital sex, abortion, homosexuality, and pornography in entertainment. We surely have a higher tolerance, injustice . . . and we get caught up in the materialistic drive for wealth, fame, and power.
Last Sunday I started a new study of Paul’s two letters to the First Baptist Church at Corinth. The Church was young at the time Paul wrote his letters, and the members were immature. The city was a cosmopolitan area with serious moral problems . . . it was a prominent city in Greece in which the main religion in town had long been practiced in a sinful temple in which sex was openly accepted and prostitutes were openly offered to those who came to ‘worship.’ For the life of me, I always think of the City of New Orleans as I think about Corinth.
Our communities desperately need to see us, as the Church, living and behaving as if we are expecting Jesus to return any day . . .