Tag Archives: Counter-cultural

Let’s Go Down the Hill

The other night a few of us in our gospel community got together to listen to this talk by Steve Timmis entitled Being Neighbours: A Gospel Strategy.

What was apparent to us as a community was that we need each other to help us intentionally “go down the hill.”  The hub for our community at the moment appears to be our house.  Our house’ it seems, is rather strategically situated at a confluence of at least two vastly different worlds.  If you go up the hill, broadly speaking, you encounter the cool, funky, hip (hipster actually) community.  The food is good, the beer is crafty, the people are nice (which is to say remarkably like us).  The vibe is creative, quirky and just a little bit grungy.  This is the fun and exciting part of our community.  All of us enjoy hanging out there.  We don’t need help going “up the hill.”  It’s going to happen.  Whenever we feel like grabbing a pizza or watching some sport, it’s natural and easy to take a walk up the hill.  This is also, perhaps it goes without saying, a community that deeply needs Jesus.

But down the hill a simple five-minute walk away from the hip side of town’ life is completely different.  Poor, drug ravaged, high unemployment, little or few role-models.  Kids wander the streets, sometimes till late at night.  Family breakdown, crime, drug addiction and jail sentences are fairly common aspects of many families lives “down the hill”.  These are not “our people” (and our community is fairly mixed racially).  It is not comfortable, fun or safe by our usual standards.  This is the kind of place we have to intentionally choose to be.  It will not just happen, naturally or organically.  It will take sacrifice, effort and a grab me by the neck kind of reminder these are exactly the kind of places where the light must shine brightest in the midst of the greater darkness.  And sadly these are also the places where traditionally churches have been at their least effective.

I don’t need my community to help me go up the hill.  I like them when we go up the hill.  But I need to get me to go down the hill.  Perhaps we don’t fully understand the mutual necessity that Jesus builds into the church as body image simply because we simply do not go down the hill enough.  We like each other when we go up the hill but we need each other when we go down the hill.


Exceptional ordinary lives

1 Peter 2:4-6 speaks of Christian being built into a new temple, through which the presence and the blessing of God are mediated to the world.  2v11-12 spells out a bit more what this presence of God would look like.  The presence of God experienced in our lives lived together is such that it demonstrates the truth that it is good to live under the reign of King Jesus.   Those who do not believe would (v12) see the goodness of our lives and glorify God.  That is the language of salvation.

In this post I want to explore the nature of these good lives lived together.  Is this a call to some utopian community?  Some kind of exceptional life that most of us can aspire to but seldom reach?  Well, yes I guess the Christian life is exceptional but it also very ordinary.

The spheres in which we demonstrate that is good to live under the reign of King Jesus – relating to government & obeying authorities (2v13-17), unjust suffering (perhaps particularly in our daily work) (2v19-20),  marriage (3v1-7) and beauty and fashion (3v3).  The context in which we demonstrate the presence of God and lives these lives of goodness are very ordinary and commonplace – work, home, country.  The roles we play are hardly exceptional – citizen, wife, husband, employee (slave often being more akin to the role of a servant or domestic worker in those times).   We are called to show the world that it is good to live under the reign of King Jesus in the very ordinary spheres of everyday life, in the very ordinary roles of everyday life.

This is on one hand exceptionally liberating – anyone can do this.  This is not Christianity for the special, the exceptional, the superstar – no this is Christianity for everyone.  The call is to live as citizens of the Kingdom in the very ordinary roles and contexts of everyday life.

But the Christian life is far from ordinary it is profoundly counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.  Make the king wish all his citizens were Christians (2v13-14).  Be the wives every husband desires (3v1-6).  Make every slave-owner wish his slaves were Christians (2v18-20).  Be the best husbands (3v7). Submit to authority (2v13), honour the king (2v17), love each other deeply (4v8), be good and considerate even when treated unfairly (2v19-21), do not retaliate in rage (2v23), lives of purity and reverence (3v2), radiant inner beauty (3v3-4), considerate (3v7), respectful (3v7) , live in harmony with others (3v8), be sympathetic & compassionate (3v8), repay insult with blessing (3v9), offer hospitality (4v9), not greedy for money but eager to serve (5v2), clothed with humility (5v5), self-controlled (5v8).

Steve Timmis has been known to say his great gospel strategy is to get Christian to be the neighbours everybody wants.  Ordinary lives lived in obedience to an exceptional King.