Counter Culture: A Beacon for Christ-Followers Who Feel Homeless
I think I met my favorite book. Well, it’s probably my favorite book for this particular moment in history and this particular moment in my life.
Having lived most of the last 17 years overseas as a missionary, I have had to keep American culture and politics an arm’s length away. We’ve been immersed in other languages, other time zones, other concerns. Over the years and the miles I’ve always kept abreast of the news and often longed to engage in conversation with my Stateside brothers and sisters about the evolution (revolution?) of American culture and politics. Many of my dear friends received messages from me asking, “What’s going on over there? What do you think? What are you doing about it?” I would salivate at the thought of engaging my own people group when I read the news.
And now I’m back. We’ve been here—amidst our own people group—for just over a year. We’ve found our footing and we’re developing our rhythm as an American family residing in America for the first time. As we’ve settled in as a family, we’ve needed time to get our bearings, to see American church culture up close and personal, to take in the news, to talk to the neighbors—to get acclimated to what’s happening around here and what the church is doing about it.
In 2015, when David Platt wrote “Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age,” I was up to my eyeballs in Czech language declension tables. I missed it then, but I devoured it this past weekend. In “Counter Culture,” Platt put words to the cries of my own heart from overseas.
The message of this book is perhaps even more important now, in 2017. In fact, I’m certain it’s more important now. Not only is America divided over critical social issues, but the American church is too. Platt’s book is a prophetic call to Christ followers to “rearrange our lives, families, and churches around a more consistent, Christ-compelled, countercultural response to the most pressing social issues of our day” (page xv).
Each chapter focuses on one important social issue: poverty, abortion, orphans and widows, sex slavery, marriage, sexual morality, ethnicity, religious liberty, and the unreached. First, Platt provides a biblical foundation for the social issue. Then, he investigates how our culture and the church are responding. Finally, he culminates with a call to the church to engage the issue with a Gospel-centered response. His tone is convicting and empowering, not guilt-inducing or manipulative. Each chapter leaves the reader with a holy urgency to get started doing something—anything to push back the darkness. It’s an energizing read.
Over the last six months I have heard many of my like-minded friends lament that we are now Evangelicals without a home. We have found ourselves maligned on all sides. We cannot align ourselves with those who misuse scripture but pour themselves out on behalf of justice and mercy. And yet, we are not at home with those who uphold scripture without taking it to the streets. Neither of these two extremes are the call of Jesus.
But in this book we have a home. “Counter Culture” is our handbook. Friends, read it and let’s get busy. And if the book is not enough, visit www.counterculturebook.com for more.
Side-note: last week I also read “The Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken. It’s a memoir and journey through today’s persecuted church. The stories are true, captivating, and miraculous. I heartily endorse it, as well. It portrays counter cultural Christians all over the globe—believers who choose the cross over comfort, which is exactly what Platt exhorts us to do, making it a great companion book for “Counter Culture.” Like missionary biographies of the past, the stories are spurring—they will find their way into my thoughts for years to come.