Saturday, June 11, 2011

I am a Rock; I am a Christian Island

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2


Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly things]--these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. 1 John 2:15-16


“Be in the world, but not of the world.” We’ve all heard this sermon before. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you’ve heard sermons with this theme more than a couple of times. We are to guard ourselves. We are to be careful with who we associate with. We must be careful what we watch on TV. What we hear. What we see. I’ve been preached to about protecting myself from the ungodly, the non-believers, the heathens that will steal my faith. I’ve even heard testimonies of people who have separated themselves from their families completely because of their family’s refusal to “invite Jesus into their heart”.

After hearing this advice for years and trying to guard my heart from everything that is OF the world I’ve decided we should get together and buy an island where only Christians are allowed and we block out all worldly influences. This way we can guard our faith. We can live like the Amish, but with electricity and Internet. We wouldn’t be of the world, but we’d still be in it. Kinda.

The truth is we aren’t called to be isolated. We are called to be separate but not cut off. There is a difference. I’m not sure where this concept of blocking out any interaction with an unbelieving world came from. I fully agree that we shouldn’t be conformed to this world’s standards but I think we might be misinterpreting what this means. Are we really so weak minded, so weak in Christ’s strength, that the media and our co-workers and our families and heathen friends can influence our faith so drastically?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t guard our hearts, the scriptures do call us to do that. But I think we should focus less on who and what we should avoid and more on what we should immerse ourselves in. I guard my heart with prayers and study of God’s Word as well as with fellowship with like minded Christians. When Paul talks about conforming our minds to Christ I believe he is talking about gaining control of our thoughts- not avoiding anyone and anything non-Christian. Controlling our thoughts actually takes more time, energy, and discipline than controlling our environment. But I digress.

My biggest concern with this idea of isolating ourselves from the rest of the world to prevent the world from influencing us, is in doing so we can no longer influence the world. If I am never around a lost soul how does the Spirit lead me to preach the Good News to any lost soul? And if I do by some odd chance come into contact with a nonbeliever how do I start a relationship (which is necessary for true evangelism) with them if they can not relate to me? I have heard time and time again how we need to guard our hearts by being careful what we watch, read, etc. I’ve even been warned about reading certain classics, which whispers a little too much of book banning and burning to me. I can understand taking some time for some isolation when one is still a baby Christian. But if we are adults in our walk with Christ do we not have the wisdom of discernment in us to know what is right and wrong? Can we not see that Henry Miller’s astute sexuality is also his biggest downfall? Does being Christian automatically equate being a thickheaded moron? I think you will agree with me, that we are not ignorant, indiscernible, stupid beings because we have come to Christ, the World likes to think so, but why should we prove them right by focusing on Raskolnikov’s crime while ignoring his punishment?

This DVD has the ability to steal your soul.
I got in a little bit of trouble with a Christian friend last year when I said I had gone to see Sex and The City 2. She disproved not because of the bad acting and weak plot lines but because it promotes pre-marital sex and not Christian values. I actually fell for this mentality briefly when I ranted to a nonbeliever about why I couldn’t go see Eat Pray Love with her. I talked about how Eat Pray Love made a farce of marriage and destroyed any concept of Christian virtue and ideals. This nonbelieving friend did not call me to go to the movie with her- or call me ever again period! No one wants to hang out with a nutcase who can turn everything into a treatise on her value system (I did end up renting the movie with Mark, you can read his review here). The truth is most chick flicks promote premarital sex and not Christian marital ideals. If I only watched movies that promote Christian values I would only watch Veggie Tales, The Love Dare, and the Left Behind series (I’m pretty sure I’d even have to throw the heathens at Disney out). I’m not fighting for my right to watch secular movies and television here. I’ve actually taken months long fasts from TV and didn’t miss it at all. I am willing to sacrifice some indulgences to be closer to Christ, but I also want to do Christ’s will and do it to the best of my ability. Being a Christian there is a whole slew of things that make me a unrelatable to those outside of Christ’s church, if a TV show or movie provides me with a route to conversation, I’ll take it. Jesus hung out with tax collectors, whores, and the like, why shouldn’t I be willing to engage a lost world? I do believe that is what He has called me to do.

What about you? How are you in the world but not of it? Do you limit who you associate with or what you see, hear, and do? Did you get lambasted for seeing SATC2? Or Eat Pray Love for that matter? Do you find value in being able to relate to those outside the Christian faith?