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Christian Subculture and a Look at What Jesus Would (Really) Do

Another Look at the Christian Subculture

I disagree. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

We spend so much time on Jesus’ first commandment, which is great. We should emphasize loving God and teach children the Bible. They should memorize Scripture verses. But often we miss out on the second commandment. In fact, the extent to which we teach children to “Love your neighbor as yourself” is to make sure they don’t hit and are helpful.

We forget to teach children to treat all people with respect. We forget to teach that just because someone else has a different belief system or makes different lifestyle choices doesn’t mean we treat them with contempt or avoid them. And we don’t treat them as if we’ll win some cool supernatural prize if we convert them.

I think we do a disservice to the Gospel by perpetuating a Christian subculture. The Gospel is about more than getting to heaven. It has more to do with being part of the transformational work God wants to do in people’s lives. But the Christian subculture tries to insulate itself from the world while trying to make the world conform to its rules.

Instead of spending money on Christian T-shirts (which simply identify you as a fellow club member), sponsor a child in a marginalized part of the world. Instead of watching hours of Christian TV and movies, go outside and meet your neighbors.

What Would Jesus (Really) Do?

The phrase WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) continues to abound in Christian subculture. But if we were to truly seek out the answer to that, I think we’d be surprised and even shocked. Jesus spent his time with unpolished fishermen who probably didn’t use the best of language. He knew embezzlers who threw some wild parties. Hey, Jesus even supplied some really good wine at a party where many attendees were already buzzed.

Now, I’m not saying we should all go out and party it up. What I’m saying is we need to engage our communities … the people in our neighborhoods. We need to teach our kids not to be afraid of being “contaminated.” We need to teach our children grace. And we need to teach them how to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength and how to truly love all our neighbors as we love ourselves.

In the end, it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s about broken images of God reaching out to other broken images of God and pointing them to the One who can make them whole again. We can’t do that from the inside of a clubhouse.

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Henry Zonio, a husband of one and father of four, has 13 years’ experience as a full time Children’s Pastor in the United States and Canada. He is on staff at Redwood Park Church in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where he has the freedom to experiment with spiritual formation strategies. Henry serves as the Children’s Ministry Network Facilitator for the Central Canadian District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. Henry also authors Elemental Children’s Ministry, a blog that facilitates conversations about the mutual influence of children’s ministry and culture. After growing up in California enjoying water sports, he has expanded his H2O experiences to include sitting in a sauna for insane periods of time, followed by rolling in the snow. Used by permission of Henry Zonio. All rights reserved. This article was adapted from a blog post by Henry Zonio at ElementalCM.com