Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seperate, assimilate, or infiltrate?

This past Mother's Day our sermon at church was excellent. Not very motherly, however they did give a gift card to the mom with the most kids in each service, the winner at my service had eleven kids.

Our pastor talked about a christian's purpose in the world. He summed it up with three words.

1) separate

Christians are not to separate themselves from those who are not christians. We're not supposed to stand back and watch people live their life with our hands in front of us making an "x" and saying, "bad people! BAD!"

2) assimilate

Christians aren't supposed to assimilate to the worldly culture. He used the example of Daniel being taken to Babylon. Daniel was taken because he was smart and handsome. He had it all. He was told to eat food that he wasn't willing to, so he didn't. And God blessed him for it.

When he taken captive he was trained in magic, soothsaying, and astronomy (Daniel, Chapter 2). However, he didn't change his beliefs. He was steadfast. He KNEW that his God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the only true God. So when the king sent out to the decree to kill all the wise men Daniel asked him to wait. He got together with his buddies, they prayed about it, and God revealed to Daniel what Nebuchadnezzar's dream was, as well as the meaning. When Daniel went to the King he told him plain and simple,

"The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king.

28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these:

29 As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be.

30 But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart."

Daniel was taken away from his home. His family, his community and support groups. He could have gone through his training and not stuck to what he knew what was true. But he didn't. He could have assimilated. He could have decided, "You know, I was taken captive, I'm never going to return home, I might as well just do what I have to do to make life easy on myself." But he didn't. He refused to assimilate.

So, if you don't separate and you don't assimilate what do you do? Exactly what Daniel did.

3) infiltrate

I realize that that sounds sort of sneaky and awful, infiltrate, as though we are sneaking in the enemy camp and learning all their secrets. That's not the mental picture that should be coming across. However, the idea of Christians being in the world not just in churches or Bible study is true. I’m not suggesting that we should live our life incognito, living as though we don’t know the Truth. I mean we should be a part of life. An awesome example that I can think of is Triple X church, a ministry that sets up a booth inside the porn conventions and passes out Bibles. They don’t stand outside screaming that the people involved in that lifestyle are going to hell. They get in there. They meet people. They are open and honest and upfront and gentle. A light shining on a hill. The salt of the earth. You can't be a light if there's no darkness. Community is vital to keeping your relationship with Christ healthy, but if all you ever do is hang out with christian people you're missing the point. Jesus came and hung out with the tax collectors, prostitutes, and *shudder* sinful people. He also called us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our goal is not to find people who aren't christians and wow them with our holy lifestyle. lifestyle according to God's standards, not the worlds, and hopefully, hopefully by doing that we will be a light. We're not going to win anyone to Christ by standing on a pedestal but if we are real people, with real love and care and concern (and yes, you can be loving without watering down the Truth) with real problems and difficulties, we can hope that instead of seeing us, people will see He who is within us.

It's a beautiful balance, to be able to infiltrate without being so stand-offish that we scare people off but strong enough to not assimilate. I know I'm not always there, but I'm working on it.

So what about you? How do you live your life? Do you separate, assimilate, or infiltrate?

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