Thursday, June 11, 2009

Living in the Real World

When we first started homeschooling, one of my concerns was that my children would be too isolated -- not from other kids in general, but from other kinds of kids. We belonged to a Christian homeschool co-op; other than our next-door neighbors, pretty much all of their friends were from church or co-op. It worried me a bit that they didn't have many friends who weren't Christians.

I expressed that concern to my sister once, and she reassured me. Pray about it, she said, and if God wants them with other kids, he'll open up doors for that to happen. She was right. I'm fine with how their friendships evolved in Jersey. And I'm also confident about the decision to put them in school for the fall. Leslie, especially, is ready to expand her horizons in that way.

But this is symptomatic of a problem I've seen in the church in general in the past couple decades. We've created our own little sheltered world and shut ourselves off in it. Sometimes it's almost comical. Pick a product, an interest, an activity, whatever . . you'll find a Christianized version of it. Christian schools. Christian counseling. Christian music, every genre. Christian days at the amusement park. Christian books and bookstores. Christian clothing. Christian exercise videos. Christian cruises. There are Christian breath mints out there, for crying out loud.

And I'm not discrediting the value of any of these things per se. Some of them, like Christian counseling, I would put in the category of critical to the health of the Body. But the cumulative effect has been to shut believers off from the "real world" to which we are meant to be salt and light.

My friend Randy and I talked once about the difference between "Christian theater" and being a Christian in the theater -- and our desires to do the latter more than the former. Not that Christian theater isn't a great thing. But it's been done. I feel more called to be a godly influence in the secular part of that world.

Yeah, I say that . . but then a part of me really likes the comfort of this cozy little Christianized world. It's an awkward dance, sometimes, to live in a world of different values and beliefs. Staying true to yourself without alienating, or insulting, or patronizing others. Loving people so different from me. Or maybe that's just because I'm out of practice.

Hmmmmm. Lots of loose strings from earlier posts coming in here . . . my American Idol obsession (yes, it's connected) . . . being known by our love . . . making comfort an idol. Love it when that synthesis stuff happens.


Robin Shreeves said...

I understand what you're talking about. When I first felt God drawing me to writing and then to writing about environmentalism I had to make the decision. Was I going to write about Christian environmentalism or was a I going to be a Christian who wrote about environmentalism. I chose the latter after reading a Tony Campolo book. Because of that, my writing has appeared on websites where Christians often get bashed in both the content and reader comments.

Tony Campolo wrote in How to Rescue the Earth Without Worshiping Nature that Christians should work side by side with non-Christians on this issue, especially because for the last several decades it has been non-Christians who have been doing most of the environmental work - work that Christians have so blindly neglected.

After I read that, I felt that I needed to not separate myself from other environmentalists because of my Christianity. It's worked really well so far, even if I have had to defend myself and my faith a time or two.

mamaofive said...

Tim Keller talk about Christians being missional. This is one thing that we need to be about to be salt and light. You are right on sister.