Tuesday, 20 November 2012

'IN' the world...but not 'OF' it!

Looking at my bookshelves on the stairs this morning, I was amused to see the higgledy-piggledy order they were in. I nearly went back into library-assistant mode (my previous occupation) to sort them into fiction and non-fiction, then subsequently to sort out the non-fiction into their categories - sport, craft, Christian....

That's when I remembered that it's important not to have a great sacred/secular divide in our everyday lives. We are called to be 'in the world but not of it' and though we find ourselves living in a very secular-minded reality we are called not to conform to it's ways.

Yet, totally drawing aside from secularism and refusing to be 'Mammon's plaything' means we could be failing in Christ's command to 'go into all the world and preach the gospel'. To NOT interact with those around us condemns others to be denied the right of hearing the Good News - in other words, there is no place for 'holy huddles' or Christian 'ghettos'.

Sadly, this has recently been an issue for someone I know of; only 'valued' if he spent his time doing Christian 'stuff'; socialising in the 'real world' was a 'no-no'! How sad. How judgemental. It's something that's been directed at some of our family - 'You shouldn't be watching that film / listening to that band if you're a Christian'. (shock horror!)

If we cannot 'live' in this world and spend time among its people then we have no chance of meeting them where they are; do we expecting them to all have a 'Damascus Road' experience and then join a church?

I've heard the term 'so heavenly minded he/she is of no earthly use' - I hope and pray I will never be accused of being like that!

Sharing a pint with a non-Christian friend in a pub can be evangelism; meeting them where they are, sharing experiences but reacting in a different way; not swearing or losing our temper when things don't work out as we'd hoped; facing the life crises that affect us all at some point or another (e.g threats of unemployment, financial and social issues, death of loved ones) in a way that reflects Jesus' principals can say more than a month of sermons or big church 'events' - it shows the person in question they are valued for who they are, not what they do. After all, Jesus himself chose to meet up with the tax-collectors and sinners - so why shouldn't we?

Of course, the 'world's' pull is enticing - it is easy to be tripped up, unawares - but sitting snug in our sanctuaries, set apart from the sinful world, is not an option for us.  Jesus did not ransom us from sin so that we could sit on the sidelines of life, clutching our 'ticket' into heaven.We are not called to be 'safe' - we are called to be obedient!

So, I'll leave my bookshelf as it is, I think; a reminder to take my 'Christianity' out into the world wherever I might be, not keep it closeted away; not preaching or judging but just trying to make a difference to those around me. If all I do is smash the sometimes negative stereotype of how the world views 'Christians' then I'd be happy with that - all else is a bonus!


.....and from my bookshelf - a couple of treasures!

'God's Smuggler' by Brother Andrew tells of his call to faith and then putting that faith on the line as he tried to get Bibles across the (then) Iron Curtain; some hair-raising accounts and a wonderful read because he brings home the point that he's just an ordinary guy who took God at His word! (It's also the book that brought me back to God after a half-hearted earlier 'conversion' and subsequent falling-away!)

Another jewel is 'The Hiding Place' by Corrie ten Boom

This tells the story of how she, and her family helped Jews escaping from the Nazi regime in WW2 Holland. The family were eventually betrayed, arrested and sent to different POW camps, most never to return. Despite the odds, Corrie and her sister, Bestsie, found themselves in Ravensbruck and the book tells how even in that dark place God's word was shared. To my mind, Corrie ten Boom sets a  template for us - it was as natural for her to talk with God as it was to converse with those around her (frequently she did that concurrently!); yet, still, she had the same human failings that we all have, the same doubts and fears, but her faith in God helped her overcome those -  in just the same we we can, too!


(part of the 'library' on the turn of the stairs!)