Marshall McLuhan coined a pretty famous phrase that says, “the medium is the message.” This means that the medium does actually shift, alter and change the message. And, while I don’t want to spend 3,000 words unpacking that today, I want to draw our attention to something that is happening in our culture.
We now live in a world that is about speed, convenience, newness and simplicity.
Here is the tie in to McLuhan’s phrase… When everything is fast, easy, new and simple, we can then unconsciously adopt the posture that anything that is slow, difficult, older and complex is not only odd, but is also wrong.
When our TV shows, food, Amazon Prime shipping and our friendships with social media are almost instantaneous (clear, newly refreshed and right at our fingertips), it can be difficult to appreciate the reality that some things take time. Some things are incredibly hard. Some things ancient matter. Some things simply aren’t simple, but incredibly complex.
It doesn’t take a genius to notice that our current cultural expectations of speed, convenience, novelty and simplicity will have a disastrous effect on discipleship.
Because, here is the truth… Discipleship is not fast, it’s not convenient, it’s not new and it’s anything but simple. The honest truth is that following Jesus is a long journey, it requires you to give up a lot, it’s actually pretty ancient and it often places us in difficult situations in which complexities abound.
So, my point is, the current cultural trends do not fit well with the life of discipleship that Jesus calls us to follow. And, I’m not lamenting that fact actually, because this gives us a chance to truly stand out and be different than the culture around us.
Often, we want to be counter-culture morally (and we should be!), but what if we also became counter-cultural in a different way? What if we, as believers, praised and valued a long obedience in the same direction? What if we didn’t always try to be new, but focused on being faithful? What if we praised doing the next right hard thing over just the easy thing? What if we really sought to never reduce people or ideas to cultural clichés, but sought to enter fully into the complexity of life?
What I’m pondering, and even challenging us to do, is this… To counteract the instantaneous, easy, new and reductionist world around us by living like Jesus. To value slow and long-term change. To value doing the right hard things over the easy things. To value living faithfully over novelty. To value the complexity of our stories over reducing them.
In essence, I’m asking what it might look like for you and me to live differently than our culture. Because, that might just be the thing that actually changes our culture.