Some of us Christians do our best to separate ourselves from the world as much as possible — much like the Essenes of Jesus’ day.
We immerse ourselves in nothing but Christianese culture, listening to nothing but the FISH (safe for the whole family!!); watch nothing but purposefully Christianized programming (yay American Bible Challenge; a bigger YAY for Kirk Cameron!)
We view the world to be so contaminated that we try our best to stay far, far from it.
In a previous post, I mentioned that a part of me admires the resolves of those people to really stick to their guns on what they believe to be a good and faithful Christian life. They’re making sacrifices and diligently trying to live a life that they feel is a good Christian one. They’re anchored by their beliefs, rather than floating and drifting about.
But, the bigger part of me has to question, really, how “biblical” is that approach of life?
Not being part of this world has become (very) profitable. NOTW (Not Of This World) apparel and swag has become one of the bigger sellers of Christianese paraphernalia. I see bumper stickers of NOTW on many cars; people wearing shirts with the NOTW logo.
Although, NOTW makes me think of aliens. Or Superman. But not really Jesus nor Christians. But that’s just me and my love for sci-fi and comics.
We do our best to completely separate ourselves from the world.
But, let’s not forget the favorite verse (or the most well known verse) for many, many Christians: John 3:16 which begins with For God so loved the world… (emphasis mine)
If God thought of the world as contaminated and dark as we did, would God really send his son?
If God wanted to be separated from the world as much as we do, would God find it necessary to send Jesus?
I mean, if the world is as dark and as contaminated as we believe (and it is), then what good are we doing for the world God created by pulling ourselves completely away from it?
Was it God’s purpose to send his beloved son to the world that he so loved and have Jesus die on the cross for us so that we may, in turn, respond by completely withdrawing from the world God intended to save and redeem and restore?
How can we be the light of this dark world if we hide ourselves under a bushel?
How can we be the salt to this world if we’re refusing to be spread upon the world?
Yes, Jesus said, “What good is salt if it loses its taste?”
But, also, what good is salt if it’s kept in its shaker away on the kitchen shelf never to interact with food (world)?
If the world is that bad and dark and evil — what are we doing to make it a better place?
If the world is that bad and dark and evil — then why are we taking away the hope and redeeming power of God away from it?
Why are we trying to bottle up all of God’s goodness and keep it to ourselves, away from the world?
I’m not saying or advocating that we become “worldly” and embrace all that is “unholy.”
But, saying and advocating that, instead of withdrawing, we let people know of the life-giving love and grace and hope of Christ. The same love, grace, and hope changed our lives for the better. And continues to change our lives.
And, what good is the Gospel and our message if we just keep trying to save the already saved, because all we hang out with are the saved?
Yes. The world is broken. But, what we can’t do is withdraw ourselves from it and point our fingers on just how screwed up the world is.
I mean, c’mon. Really.
What Would Jesus Do?