One thing that scares me about the church is the church’s tendency to remove itself from “the world.” Since I live, and have lived in a Christian bubble for the past 3 years, I feel it every day. My classes start with prayers and for the most part are all focused on ministry. Not that I think these are bad things, i know that in the “real world” (whatever that is) you don’t go to chapel 3 times a week.
It seems that so often we as Christians are scared of the world. Almost like when I do leave my bubble that it’s out there waiting for me, so he can eat me up. You hear it in church classrooms, and I hear it in the college classroom: “the world is out to get you!”
This to me seems very reminiscent of the Black Panther movement of the 60’s and 70’s, and their talk of “the man”. This movement constantly would make remarks about this over arching evil force that was out to get anybody that was black. This “man” was always looking over the group’s collective and individual shoulder. This dark and evil force was something to combat, sometimes violently, and must be stopped at all cost.
For RA training this summer I had to read the book “The Promise of Paradox.” While I did not finish the book, I read like 2-3 chapters of it before I got back to school-yes I have every intention to finish it later. The author is a big fan of Merton, a Roman Catholic monk. He quotes Merton who is addressing the issue of “the World”:
It is wrong to come to the monastery in order to escape the world so conceived, for the conception is false. The world does not begin at the monastery gatehouse (or the Church door, or once off the college campus). It is within each one of us. WE ARE THE WORLD!
When I read this it made sense to me, for so long I was sitting back thinking that the world was this big, bad, evil thing out there trying to get me. And while I do believe that there is an evil presence out there, the World is not it. I am the World!
The ‘World’ can be defined in a similar way to the way we define the church. The Church is not the buildings or the organization that runs it; but the Church is the people that fill its ranks. Quite similarly, the world is the people that make up the population of the world.
Yes there are some people who are definitely evil, and motivated by nothing but evil, but I contend that the vast percentage of people are not evil, but merely just selfish and are motivated by taking care of ‘ole Number 1’ (which is the whole root of the sin problem). For me this thought totally changes how I interact with people, sin while bad, is not necessarily done with evil intents.
While I am not saying that everybody is good, I am saying that the world is not this big evil dark presence that is trying to destroy you. The world is hurting people; people desperately in need of being healed (whether they know it or not). We need to start realizing that these people are not out their trying to destroy us, but they are out there without the grace of God in their lives; and that's something that they need.