Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “culture” as “the concepts, habits, skills, arts, instruments, institutions, etc. of a given people in a given period.” “Counterculture” is a “culture contrary to, against, opposed to the prevailing culture.” A “subculture” is a distinctive group of people that is still a part of the overall existing culture.
The early church was a counterculture. As a group they rejected and opposed the dominant values and lifestyles of their day. The Apostle Peter preached, “…Be saved from this crooked (perverse, wicked, unjust) generation (Acts 2:40b, Amplified Bible).” They were bold ambassadors of the good news of a new culture under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They called people to enter a unique and far superior way of thinking and living called the Kingdom of God. Many of them suffered intense persecution and death as martyrs because of their uncompromising distinctiveness as the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), holy passion for Christ and the counterculture He initiated with His own blood shed on the cross.
Much of the professing church today, however, is a subculture tainted and operating, for the most part, according to the perverted values of “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). It functions predominantly under various labels, structures, rituals, compromises and denominations rather than according to truth and values of the Kingdom of God. So most of what the professing church has to offer lost people enmeshed in a wicked culture is counterfeit—a deceptive imitation of that which is genuine.
Satan has a counterfeit for every truth God has revealed. The counterfeits of the enemy are proofs of the real things. If it wasn’t for real money, counterfeit money wouldn’t fool anybody. And only by knowing the real are we able to spot the counterfeit and refuse to accept it as legitimate currency in our lives. Sadly though, so many of us aren’t sure about the true nature of the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
This gospel of the Kingdom of God welcomes repentant sinners (Mark 2:17), but it does not welcome sin. This gospel of the Kingdom exposes and reproves the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). It shines its piercing light through biblical truth accurately presented and lived out by its ambassadors proclaiming the wonderful liberty and peace of Jesus Christ to the hearts and lives of people in every tribe, tongue and nation (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 5:9). This Kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36) and is actually found within those who have truly repented and put their faith and hope fully in the Lord Jesus Christ. His Kingdom is a mighty one of “righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17b).”
The New Bible Dictionary defines the Kingdom of God as “the redemptive rule of God in Christ defeating Satan and the powers of evil and delivering men from the sway of evil.” It is the sovereign rule of God manifested. The kingdoms of this present world, this evil age, are in rebellion against God’s authority at every level. That spells defilement, defeat, destruction and death for those who remain in the grip of this world’s evil culture with its counterfeit religious systems.
The Kingdom of God is manifested simultaneously with the kingdom of Satan (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). It comes imperceptibly (Luke 17:20-21). It is manifested supernaturally (Matthew 12:22, 23, 28). The Kingdom of God comes dynamically by the new birth (John 3:3), by simply receiving it (Mark 10:13-16) and by prayer (Matthew 6:10).
The true Church of Jesus Christ is certainly not the entirety of Kingdom of God. But for now, it is to be the most visible and powerful manifestation of the Kingdom here on earth. The Church is the people who have submitted to the rule of God, have entered into its blessings and are declaring and demonstrating the gospel of the Kingdom. This is true Church of Jesus Christ. It is characterized by abundant life (John 10:10), radical love (John 13:35) and pure light (Matthew 5:14-16)
His Kingdom comes as His will is done in earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). And a new heaven and a new earth, “…wherein dwelleth righteousness…” (II Peter 3:13), are coming.
Though it seems increasingly imposing now, Satan’s kingdom of deceit and all manner of evil will one day be fully destroyed and God’s Kingdom will be fully and eternally displayed (Revelation 11:15; 12:10-11; 19:11-16). In the meantime, the wicked culture of our day needs to be firmly and graciously confronted with the counterculture of His Kingdom. Never settle for a counterfeit!