What’s sad to me is that this approach we've been talking about is a novel one. Many prefer a more caustic approach, citing the urgency of their message as a rationale for their less-than-tactful methodology. Others are apathetic or so caught up in their Christian activities that they do no conversing with outsiders at all. Some prefer a sort of Christian isolation that cuts them off from any opportunity to have conversations with outsiders, listening only to Christian radio, watching only Christian television, sending their kids to Christian schools (or homeschooling), making it difficult for them to even imagine talking to anyone who doesn’t agree with their values. But listen here, in case you didn’t hear it the first time: withdrawal is the opposite of what Jesus did through the Incarnation.
I talked about this on my blog once – this impulse some Christians feel to withdraw from society. One of my readers wrote in and asked: “By ‘withdrawal’ do you mean those who retreat to a monastic way of life, those who remove themselves from the everyday normalcies that you and I enjoy and choose not to interact any longer with culture? Or do you mean those who refuse to vote, who don’t read the paper or ponder political questions or are afraid to talk to others about God?”
It got me wondering: honestly, what’s the difference? Withdrawing from society – whether to go live on a mountain top in a commune or continuing to live among the rest of the people but having nothing to do with them and refusing to get involved in processes that might make a difference – it’s the same thing, isn’t it?
I mean, unless I’m missing something here, withdrawal is withdrawal. And it’s practiced by too many Christians.
I think there are a few major reasons why Christians choose to circle the wagons, so to speak. Mostly, it’s because of fear, the belief that our engagement won’t actually accomplish anything and a gross misunderstanding of a few Bible verses. These folks point to verses that talk about light having no fellowship with darkness. They say that fellowship with the world is enmity with God. They remind us not to love the world or the things of the world.
But I’m not convinced that those verses mean what they think they mean. After all, if correct biblical interpretation and application leads us to become less like Jesus, then something’s gone terribly wrong, right? Maybe our goal shouldn’t be to become more biblical but to become more Christlike.