I could be wrong, but didn’t Jesus leave His God-blessed heaven to redeem this sin-cursed earth?
Didn’t He hang out with the worst of the worse?
And didn’t He go to their ubiquitous watering holes and come away having influenced them and not the other way around?
And didn’t He find some amazing apostles in places that most holier-than-thou’s would never have been seen? Yes, Jedediah, I think he did.
Look, horribly confused Christian: from what I’ve gathered from reading the scripture a few times, the believer has three options when he’s faced with an overtly wicked environment. He can either:
1. Absorb the culture.
2. Separate from the culture.
3. Or infiltrate the culture.
Let’s check out the tres selecciones.
The Christian who absorbs the culture is the type that is always testing the wind of public opinion and, like a spiritual weather vane, he twists with the prevailing airflow. This type of “believer” doesn’t really believe much; rather he allows his “convictions” to be crafted by what currently is en vogue.
Such spineless, Christian-in-name-only followers of a Jesus of their own imagination can be counted on to not stand up and be counted when Christ’s commandments run contrary to culture. The absorption crowd regularly blows off truth in favor of being liked. You’ve seen these sad cases in society, I’m sure.
Believers who, trying way too hard to be relevant, hip, and groovy Christians, end up doing the politically correct thing and thus, lose their contrary sting.
They have no spine. They have no conviction that they’ll live and die for. Any attempt to get them to take an unpopular stand in society causes them to melt like Bill Clinton does in front of a chunky girl with D cups. The absorption crew sees it as their business to take the bones out of the Christian fish symbol and make Jesus yummy, digestible and unobtrusive to the obstreperous.
That’s the absorption crowd.
The separatist, on the other hand, is a completely different animal from the absorbing Christian. The separatist couldn’t give a rip what the world thinks. The separatists hate the world and all that the world is. Most of them won’t come out and say that, but it’s true. They don’t want involvement in the public square. They don’t want involvement with culture. They view most of what culture has to offer as unclean contaminates, and they’re somewhat spot-on. Godless culture is godless, and thus it is wickedly whacked. An uninformed, unprepared believer can end being . . . uh . . . influenced if he’s naïve and doesn’t watch his backside when he sashays into this world.
You’ve seen it before: some nice looking country girl with Christian values gets into showbiz and goes from being a dancer on the Mickey Mouse Club to dancing naked onstage in front of thousands while holding a white python and French kissing an aging and grody Madonna.
The separatist, instead of holding onto his biblical bearings while interfacing with the irreverent, would rather not have the interaction and thus, the test of his convictions at all. The separatists believe that Christian victory and ascendancy over corrupt culture can come only through avoidance. The only victory they have over corruption is from the simple fact that they have distanced themselves from being tested. Therefore, no one, including the separatists, really knows what they believe and what they stand for. They’re sheltered little darlings that live in a Tweety Bird chirping, religious biosphere away from the ugly world.
The problem with the separatists is not only do they not know what they really know, but also that they fail to reach out to those who could use a helping hand. What’s worse is they develop an us vs. them mentality, a spiritual xenophobia towards the unwashed masses. This sin of self-righteousness, in the separatists, happens to be the very thing that ticked off Christ the most. And BTW, the only folks Christ ever warned His followers to flee from were not the gross, obvious, overt sinners—but the pompous and nauseous, self-righteous religious.
Since absorption and separation are not an option for the true Christian, what is the believer to do? The only biblical option for the concerned Christian is to infiltrate society. This means we must leave our sterilized, supposedly sin-free environments and get into the swill of the real world and live what Martin Luther said was the Christian’s duty: a profane life.
Martin Luther, the 16th century Augustinian monk who shook all of Christendom like a bowl of liposcutioned fat, thought that a Christian was worthless until he came to the place of maturity where he could live profanely, i.e., “outside the temple.”
What good is our faith if it’s just our personal relationship with Jesus? How the heck does such a faith make a difference to this planet, you little self-obsessed, religious me monkey? Our faith is useless unless it sees use outside the temple and inside the public square, and the arts and the political realms are in dire need of serious saints who are over-the-top with excellence in what they do.
Don’t absorb the culture, Chicken Little. Stand up to it. Also, don’t run from the culture and separate from it, girlie man; but rather infiltrate it with creativity, love, grace and conviction, and watch the world that currently makes you wretch do a 180 via your growing Christian influence.