culture: where flying solo takes focus and courage

Our culture may not define us but it affects how we think and act, what we become accustomed to and decide to join in with or not. We can deliberately set ourselves apart from the norm or allow the thoughts, words and opinions of others to shape how we behave and react to a certain extent. It can be hard to walk an independent path.

As a Christian in a mostly secular society, I’m often made aware how my inner life can differ from others. Because my faith affects how I think, what I believe, the choices I make, and what I decide to allow into my life. Although we cannot totally gate-keep our souls from every unwanted influence or temptation, it’s always worth trying, with God’s help.

Jesus lived a singular life. He wasn’t completely a product of the society He grew up in. He flew solo with courage and focus, walked an often lonely path of total integrity and obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus lived a life of deepest compassion, with a selfless kind of love we’re not fully capable of.

Yet the Good News He came to proclaim reveals the way to a changed life, mind and heart.Β  We can experience transformed thinking and have the gift of Holy Spirit living within, empowering us to be the best possible version of ourselves by God’s mercy and grace.

Countercultural

You were bold and unafraid
to challenge the status quo
the culture you grew up in
the way of life a Jewish man
would follow as closely as he
said his prayers and read the Torah

To outside eyes you seemed
reckless sometimes, different
from the others, one of a kind
because of how you lived and loved
and welcomed women disciples
into your teaching and your heart

For you appreciated each person’s
uniqueness, what made them tick
even if they couldn’t always behave
in ways the culture and society itself
condoned or thought was appropriate

Your very self-possession led others
to mark you out as special, unafraid
to challenge the wrongs you saw
and the injustices you knew deep
down you had come to right at last

As our Messiah, not everyone would
welcome you with open arms but you
didn’t let it deter you from your task
of living out God’s mission, and revealing
his glorious grace, forgiveness and love
Β© joylenton

culture - countercultural poem excerpt - As our Messiah quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

My poem has been inspired by this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of “culture” and also by viewing the History channel’s part drama and part documentary series about the life of Jesus. It’s well worth seeing because it offers a perspective from a selection of the gospels’ major characters, plus thoughtful comments from ministers, theologians and historians.

Each episode uncovers a personal insight into what it might have been like to encounter Jesus during His time on earth. You can find out more here. And you are warmly welcome to join in with the fabulous #FMF writing community here.

Let’s be confident in God’s ability to be here with us, to make a way no matter what obstacles and challenges we might face. He will equip us to live in the world without being one with the world in the areas where faith says no.

22 thoughts on “culture: where flying solo takes focus and courage

  1. Joy, your poem brought tears to my eyes. That last stanza is so real.

    It is not easy living in a secular world, but if we learn from his example of living a singular life as you stated, our own beliefs are much easier to cherish and behold. This was a gorgeous, touching post, like a loving whisper from our Lord.

    Wishing you a thousand blessings and love.

    • Drew, your poetry makes me feel that way as well. You are so beautifully attuned to the exquisite heartbeat of love, with all its attendant joys and sorrows. I’m so glad this post touched and spoke to you. It sounds like you have understanding of the the difficulties inherent in living in a secular world. Maybe we can influence those we come into contact with by our words. You certainly have a large and ardent fan base! Blessings and love to you too. πŸ’œ

    • And I love your appreciation of them, Tara! Thank you for being such a generous supporter of this blog and a treasured friend. Blessings and hugs! xo πŸ’œ

    • Yes, He did, Becky. It makes me wonder if we would have been any less mystified by His actions or resistant to His words. With the benefit of the Scriptures, and our hindsight knowledge of the Cross, it can be hard to place ourselves in the shoes of those who also walked the dusty path that Jesus trod. I’ve had my Instagram feed here from the beginning. It’s nice to be able to share our images directly on our blogs, isn’t it? 😊🌸

  2. What timely words for me dear Joy. Standing firm whether liked or disliked has become a reality for me this week. Thank you for your post. I am still praying about mine. Have a blessed weekend if we miss each other πŸ™‚

    • Oh, Julie, that can be quite a challenge! It’s natural for us to want to liked by others. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a tough time. But I am grateful if these words are helpful and timely for you. May God give you the strength to stand firm and fill you with His peace as you surrender the outcomes to Him. Blessings and love. xo πŸ’œ

  3. Oh Joy, this is so beautiful. Your poem speaks so deeply to my heart, as He has been so near to me just today, even, speaking that HE is with me when I feel alone. This stanza especially:
    “For you appreciated each person’s
    uniqueness, what made them tick
    even if they couldn’t always behave
    in ways the culture and society itself
    condoned or thought was appropriate”
    He never labels us as the world does, because HE sees the truth, apart from what the culture speaks so loudly. Thank you dear friend, for sharing the beautiful song too! Blessings, love, and hugs to you! xo

    • Dear Bettie, what a precious gift to sense our Lord near to you in your feelings of loneliness. Chronic illness can be isolating, especially in the way it forces us to pull back from activities we might desperately want to be a part of. And even when we stretch ourselves beyond what is wise, we still have to contend with the ensuing payback exacerbation of our symptoms. My heart goes out to you, sweet friend, and it also lifts with thankfulness that God would provide words for me to share that are just what your burdened heart needs to hear. How it gives us hope to know that God never labels us and has total comprehension of what we might go through. I’m glad you like the song as well! Blessings, love and hugs to you too! xo πŸ’œ

    • Dear Andrew, I can take no credit for it because God whispered it to me and I’ve scribed it here. But it makes me smile and warms my heart to hear you appreciate the poem He laid on my mind to share! The gift of poetic expression feels like a kind of mini miracle to me, and one I am thankful to enjoy in others, as with your own superb sonnets. Blessings of strength, inspiration, peace and rest to you, my friend. πŸ’œ

    • Hi Julie, it looks like you were visiting me as I was visiting you! When I mentioned the email sign up it was for my wordsofjoy.me blog because then you will receive the free ebook to help weary writers get back on track, and my newsletters as they get sent out every few weeks or so. It would be lovely to see you there as well! Have a blessed, beauty-full day yourself. 😊🌸

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