A Light in the World

"This church is here because Jesus wanted it here; the Lord wanted a church like this in a city like this called out under His voice to worship His name and bless the world He loves." — Tim McConnell

Yesterday we started a new series, Together, that focuses on God's call on us as the church, our unique gifts, and how we make up the Kingdom of God. Tim's thrust was that we need to be a light in our culture; that's part of the call in our lives and as a church.

It was an inspiring morning that focused on the idea that the church exists for a reason, and has a special charge in fulfilling the will of God in the world. This got me thinking about how Christians sometimes approach culture and the world — which is to stay away from it.

One of my favorite movies is "No Country For Old Men." A major part of the plot is the struggle of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who can't reconcile his idea of God and goodness with the struggle and evil he sees in the world. His opening monologue talks about the choice you have to make to be a part of the world.

He says, "The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He'd have to say, 'O.K., I'll be part of this world.'"

He struggles with this idea of being part of the world and trying to influence the world throughout the film. His ultimate answer is to withdraw completely. Though it's an extreme example because of the crime and violence in the world, I think many Christians have felt similarly drawn to depart culture. In fact, we've created our own sub culture — Christian music, books, TV shows, and films. It's all an attempt to be separate.

In the passage we looked at in 1 Corinthians yesterday, we are called to be separate or "set apart," but not to be apart. That's a fine distinction, but an important one. The charge for us is not how to be outside of the culture, but how to be an influence — a voice for Christ — pushing for change from within.

And that's a challenge that's worth pondering.


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