Isolationism Never Works
I suppose I should take a minute at the beginning of this to give my bona fides to speak on this subject. As I said in “A Big Blow Off“, I don’t have a degree and I haven’t been to seminary, so you might be wondering why you should pay any attention to anything I have to say. Here’s why: I spent a little over 5 years as a volunteer youth leader in Knightdale, North Carolina and 12 of my 23 years with the fire department as a lieutenant. Now, you can probably see the relevance of the former to this subject, but on the latter, things may be a little cloudy. Let me explain. As a fire department supervisor, I had to get people to do things that were not only counter-intuitive, but dangerous. And, many of the people I supervised were a good deal younger than me and had more in common with the youth in question than myself. The combination of these two experiences, I think. makes my uniquely qualified for this discussion. With that out of the way, let’s get to the meat of today’s subject: Churches are overprotective and isolated, demonizing everything outside of them.
Christians, especially evangelical Christians, are bombarded with the idea that things of the world are evil and should be avoided at all costs. Recently, I read an article that characterized several popular mainstream movies as “porn”, the author saying “it’s hard for me to believe there’s a proper place for any of these movies in a Christian’s life.” Many evangelical churches sponsor private schools and day cares or encourage parents to home school their kids because the education available from the state is too secular. There are tons of businesses that display their faith in their advertising and many churches urge their members to patronize them. Ever wonder why that is?
I would have to say it goes back to the whole “set apart” thing. You know, “Do not be conformed to this world…” and “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world“. The thing is, those verses and the idea espoused in them were never meant to isolate Christians from the world. If you read verse 14 of John 17, you will see that, immediately before He said His followers were not of the world, Jesus said “I’m not asking that you take them out of this world but that you keep them safe from the evil one. By hiding out in their churchy enclaves, these folks do two things: one, they remove any chance to affect change in the world and two, they discount the Bible and the power of God. By hiding out, they effectively say that God either ignored the request of Jesus or that God isn’t powerful enough to keep them safe. In other words, they are hypocrites and there’s nothing a young person hates more than a hypocrite.
Hmm, “there’s nothing a young person hates more than a hypocrite.” I suspect that is a theme that will receive significant play before I’m done with this. Stay tuned for more.