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Following the zeitgeist 

We need to broaden our definition of what it means to be counter cultural, writes Michael Shaw

Counter cultural

When I was a younger Christian (in my teens) our worship leader, an amazing guy from a very conservative Evangelical perspective, encouraged us to get rid of all that harmed us. There is always a danger in this as often it involves completely stopping listening to that band, or watching that film or TV programme. 
I remember my mate Barrie getting rid of his pornography collection, and while this was very commendable of him (and the right thing to do) his decision to flog it to a mate and get some money back was probably not!
I am a big fan of the Lectio 365 app that 24/7 prayer launched a couple of years back. For those who don’t know it, it is an app you can download on your phone that gives the user a 7-10 min devotion each day and a shorter one in the evening. I have encouraged my tech savvy folk in my church to use it. So I am a big fan.

One of the contributors is writer, prayer warrior and pastor Peter Greig, one of the founders of 24/7. He posted on his Facebook page about a recent message.

“Today's #Lectio365 might just be the most challenging devotional I’ve ever done…”

This caught my attention!

The devotion was great, and I really enjoyed it, but I felt it missed something.
The devotion was looking at Acts 17:16 and asking questions on how we engage and are influenced by culture. Sadly, he fell into the trap that the youth pastor fell into:

  • What aspects of my culture ‘greatly distress’ me?
  • Am I in danger of confusing the spirit of the age with the Spirit of God?
  • Do I switch off the gift of “discernment of spirits” when I go to the cinema … or when I attend a lecture, or when I shop at the mall?
  • When did I last abandon a box set because of its darkness or depravity?
  • Have I ever withdrawn from an acquaintance whose influence was consistently detrimental to my holiness? 

There is nothing wrong with this, indeed and there is much merit here. However, I just feel that the Spirit of the Age (the German word is Zeitgeist) is far broader:

  • Consumerism
  • Individualism
  • 24/7 busyness
  • Idolatry of comfort
  • Upward mobility
  • Veneration of celebrities
  • Polarisation
  • Tribalism 

I have recently been reflecting on James 1:27 where James talks about true religion. As someone passionate about social justice, I have always found the “widows and orphans” bit, but struggled with the “being polluted by the world” part. Mainly because it is easy to fall into the trap of simply avoiding that movie, band, TV series. It's far broader.
The more I have looked at the way our culture behaves, and the way I see how that cultured has impacted the culture of our church, the more I am realising that it is far more entrenched than I was taught as a young man.

Image | Unsplash


Michael Shaw is the minister of Devonport Community Baptist Church, Plymouth 



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Baptist Times, 01/07/2022
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