Quiet Living

I hate the country. The bugs are bigger and more plentiful. The convenience stores are fewer and further apart. And the music makes me wish I was the one that had run over their dog.

Truth be told, I find the simple life of the country disquieting. That may sound funny to some, but after living in the city for a while, the noisy pace actually becomes quite soothing. In fact, our current apartment is ground level to a busy street that features lots of potholes and a U-Haul. Which is nice because it makes it harder to tell the difference between an empty flatbed and a gunshot.

It's almost intoxicating. As if the city lures unsuspecting people into becoming loud, rude, aggressive folk. But somehow, I don't imagine this is what Jesus had intended for us.

photo credit: Allie's.Dad via photopin cc
From the average American's perspective, evangelicals are far from quiet, kind, or cooperative. They're more like city folk. Their opinions are uncompromising, their values are universal, and their politics are the best thing that could ever happen to this country. They hold to the inerrancy of the Bible and regard the Constitution of the United States similarly since, according to some, it was founded on biblical principles. They are driven to preserve Christian America. Because, in their minds, America is God's gift to the world.

Of course, having grown up in an evangelical context, I know this isn't how most of them really think. But as I've said before, perception does matter. And most people just don't understand why evangelicals are so committed to reshaping our culture.

So for those of you who don't know, let me tell you. It has to do with something called the "cultural mandate." This idea can be traced back to Abraham Kuyper, but for most it was made popular by the late Chuck Colson. He explains it this way:
As agents of God's common grace, we are called to help sustain and renew his creation, to uphold the created institutions of family and society, to pursue science and scholarship, to create works of art and beauty, and to heal and help those suffering from the results of the Fall. (How Now Shall We Live)
Biblical support for this is drawn from Genesis 1:28 where God tells Adam and Eve to have dominion over creation. However, this interpretation isn't corroborated by the whole of Scripture.

A lot of people have pointed that out by looking at the example of Jesus. He wasn't the revolutionist the Israelites were looking for. But this would also be taking Jesus' expressed mission out of context. He came at that time for spiritual reasons, not political ones. Rather, we should look to how the apostles dealt with the immoral Roman regime under which they lived. And Paul has some interesting thoughts:
Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called. (1 Corinthians 7:20-24)
No one would say that Christianity is in favor of slavery. And Paul makes it clear that given the opportunity, a person should try to get out of such a situation (see also Philemon). But he also never recommends that the Christian engage in civil disobedience or even unrest amid such an unethical situation.

Think about that.

Paul never encouraged enslaved believers to shake their bonds in the faces of their masters. Instead, on more than one occasion, he told believers to pursue a quiet life. Yes, we're called to obey God rather than men. But if this singular example was meant to be applied beyond the scope of preaching the word, then surely we would have some record of the apostles calling for emancipation.

We don't. And the cultural mandate does not hold up against the entire biblical witness. The church redeems people, not culture. And it's high time the church moved back to the country.