Answering Questions: Part 3
Someone recently wrote me this: "The introduction to your book is quite powerful. You call Christian authors, artists, scientists, inventors and educators to rise up and create a powerful force of Christian influence. Why do you believe the Christian community's influence is so diluted?"
I think the influence of the Christian community is so diluted because most Christians tend to extremes, and there are two extremes to which Christians run when it comes to cultural engagement: (1) Total withdrawal; (2) Total immersion.
Some Christians have seen how damaged and broken society has become, and they retreat. They move to monastaries or Christian communes. There's even a group of folks encouraging Christians to move to South Carolina. There's another plan to build a Christian city in the state of Florida. The idea is based on a gross misinterpretation of Revelation 18:4.
When we withdraw from the world like that, we lose any influence we may have. We think we're doing it because we love God. But God calls us to go into the world -- to "snatch some people out of the fire" is how Jude's letter puts it. Well, it's awful hard to snatch people out of the fire if you're plan is to avoid burning buildings altogether. How will people know about God and his love for them if we don't get in there and rub shoulders with them, showing them the love of God in action? It's a good thing God didn't treat us the way we sometimes treat our neighbors.
But there's an opposite end of the spectrum that says, "Let's get in there and act just like everybody else. If I have to get drunk at a party to share the gospel with someone, I'm willing to do that."
The first extreme is salt that refuses to get out of the shaker. The second extreme is salt that loses its distinctive flavor. Neither one is any use.
Jesus calls us to go into the world -- not to be shaped by the world -- but to be salt and light in an otherwise dark and flavorless place.