“A Christian should be in the world, but not of the world.”
How many times have you heard, or maybe even said something like this?
This is a mantra of Christianity, the functional approach that many Christians apply to life. It expresses the intent to be fully immersed and engaged in worldly affairs without being compromised by its stink and corrosive effects.
This quasi-biblical command is based passages like John 17, Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 5. It’s solid theology.
Unfortunately, the problem is in the execution.
Many Christians really struggle with what it means to live in this world while not being tainted or stained by it. I’ve struggled with it myself for much of my faith life (more about that, later).
Wrongly executing the “In/not Of” ideal often results in an effort to self-quarantine from the world and its effects. People who do this reason that until they die and are in heaven, they are “in” the world. Until then, the best, noblest thing they can do is pursue the life of the ascetic, shunning any engagement with the world (inasmuch as possible).
Author John Fischer calls this “the three monkey approach,” a lifestyle defined by “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” These people feel like the only way to be “untainted” is to be segregated from the world. Unfortunately, this is an Eastern philosophy hearkening back to Confucius, not a Christian philosophy issued by Jesus.
Consequently, an entire sub-culture of Christianity has emerged that, while technically “in the world,” it has little or nothing to actually do with the world. I call these people Sterile Christians. Well, not to their face, because that would be rude. Sterile Christians practice Sterile Christianity.
In this series of blog posts, I intend to bust the myth of Sterile Christianity and offer the better way taught, exemplified, and enabled through Jesus.
Well worth checking out this series from Bryan.