May 19, 2010

City on A Hill


I may have mentioned this before. I have great Faith. I have known how I believed since I was 13 and have little strayed from it. I can pull it out and quote an appropriate Bible verse for your specific situation at the drop of a hat. I was steeped in it as a child. I was raised on it as a teen. I don't talk about it a lot now that I am an adult. It is personal. It is mine.

I used to be more vocal, but I am not a stupid person. When I get burned, I stop putting my hand in the fire. I also have a really tough time with hypocrisy. I do what I say I will. I expect the same from others. I can't stand those who plaster their Christian bumper stickers on their car and then cut you off in traffic. It is a silly example, but you know what I mean.

Both my husband and I have lately felt a pull to be more open with where we are in our walk with God. We are older and wiser now. We have travelled so many roads. Yet I resist. I am not really afraid. I guess just wary.

Eric Metaxas addresses exactly my many recent questions in the Spring 2010 issue of The City with two simpler questions, "Does God want us to change the world? And if so, how?"

The answers are simple. Aren't they? If they are so easily answered, why do I see so many of my very intelligent Christian friends pulling themselves out of the world instead of wading headlong into it? Why have I been pressured lately, not by family but by friends, to enroll my boys in a Christian based classical school? (I won't, by the way, put the boys somewhere where they are not taught to think, but are told what to think.)

Metaxas turns to William Wilberforce as an example. Finally, one I can understand. He changed the world. And he did not do it by completely separating himself.

Christians have always struggled with how much they should be separate from the wider culture. It’s a crucial balance to strike. It’s tempting to mock those who today or in the past have separated themselves entirely, but often they’ve done so with good reasons, such as a desire to preserve their faith, to keep the secular or pagan culture from destroying it. Of course that’s why God called the Israelites to be separate from the pagan cultures around them. Another good reason has to do with wanting to protect one’s children from harm. Nonetheless, in the last century, Christians on the whole have pulled back too much from the wider culture, retreating when they ought to have advanced, or at the least, held their ground and fought.

Metaxas claims Wilberforce is an excellent example of someone who did not chose to be either "in the world" or "not of the world." He understood how to be both.

If they (the Clapham Circle) had come across as merely odd religious fanatics, their success would have been seriously hurt.... When we hide in a separate Christian subculture, with its own celebrities and music and "literature" and "Paintings of Light," we often lose the ability to communicate effectively with those on the outside.... Within the plastic palisades of Fort Churchianity(TM), we will care little if the world outside perishes.

So I will stay my course. I will slowly be a little more open with my Faith. I don't have to become a missionary to China or Haiti to do it either. I don't have to hold a revival on my front lawn.

But I will continue to read and study those things which are part of a "culture" that I love and respect. And I do not mean People or InStyle magazines. I will not, as my friend Ann suggests, "Remove that liberal trash (The Atlantic)" from my house. I will continue to read and to study. I will go to museums. I will teach the boys to read the Bible and Darwin. I will rest secure in my belief that being in the world does not always mean being of the world.

Paul quoted pagan poets and philosophers to put his points across. He didn’t advocate their worldviews, but he took from them what was valuable, what was universally true, and he used it to point to the one who is Truth.

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