Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Adversary or Ally

This topic has produced a good deal of tension for me: What is the nature of the believer’s relationship with the world? Is it more adversarial or more of an allied relationship? Scripture presents both sides as acceptable and normative for Jesus’ followers. Our temptation is to place these two concepts on a continuum and place an “X” where we believe that we and for that matter all other believers should live. Of course from a purely rational perspective we are left with no other choice than to place our “X” on the line somewhere and declare that based on our rational conclusions we can justify our position. Certainly many would argue that the tendency of the evangelical church has been more toward the adversarial side. Whether or not I agree that that is the case or that it should be the case, I am left with the distinct impression that there must exist some other “control” that informs how/why/when we would choose to advocate one side of this line or the other. But honestly, I am wallowing in a type of perplexity. I see people for whom this question is settled and more often than not I am bothered by their response to the world. The one’s who advocate and adversarial approach seem to callously disregard the fact that they too at one point were ‘lost’ or that they can really sequester themselves away from the world enough to preserve the faith they consider so dear. The one’s who advocate an alliance with the world seem all too often to compromise morality to gain ‘access’ to the world. So I feel stuck…

1 comment:

Gil said...

I find the NT image of 'aliens and exiles' to be a good one for thinking about the relationship between Christians (or the Church) and the world. There is always a sense in which the things that we think are important and valuable will be different and put us at odds with 'the world'. We are never quite 'at home' here not because we are hanging on for heaven but because our fundamental identity comes from a source that is distinct from most of the options on offer within our culture.

Having said that, we are still citizens of the world and there is no other context for us to live out our identity. Complete disengagement is not an option (even for our Hutterite brethren). The challenge will always be to identify and clarify the things on which we disagree and to still treat others well in spite of that disagreement.