I want to tell you something that I’m afraid of for myself, my local church, and the Church in America (especially the South). I’m afraid of the Christian sub-culture and the negative effect it can have on our obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ. The Christian sub-culture is a culture we have created within the larger culture of our cities. It serves as a bubble of separation from the secular world, and it is nice and safe inside. Let me tell you what’s inside – there’s encouragement, people serving you and praying for you, very little profanity if any, everyone talks about how good God is, the movies are clean, everyone agrees on the most fundamental issues, if there’s alcohol it’s only in small doses, you can understand all the lyrics to the music, when asked how we’re doing everyone answers “I’m blessed”, and the only risk you take is sending your kids to children’s church knowing that they could develop a mild addiction to lemonade and goldfish crackers. The Christian bubble is comfortable, but you probably already knew that. We stay in the Christian bubble by coming to the worship service on Sundays, Bible studies during the week, going home to our Christian families, going out to eat at Chik-fil-A, shopping at Lifeway and Hobby Lobby, hanging out with our Christian friends, and spending as little time around unbelievers as possible.
Now, of course, I am exaggerating, but perhaps not much. In our Southern, Bible-belt culture it is not that hard to avoid the world; to avoid unbelievers, and therefore, to avoid the commandments Jesus has given us that can only be obeyed in purposeful interaction with the lost – “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is heaven” (Matthew 5:16). One Christian radio station in town boasts that they’re “safe for the whole family”. I understand what they’re saying – that they’re music is not scattered with immorality and obscenities and parents don’t have to keep turning down the volume or switching stations. But my question is, “Have we taken this idea of safety from the world to seed?” Meaning, have we taken the command to remain unstained by the world to the extreme that says “avoid unbelievers” or at least, “avoid behavior that is too holy and conversations where words like ‘sin’ or ‘Jesus’ are used”.
In an attempt to be a holy people, we have we given Christianity shoulder pads, shin guards, helmets, and a bullet-proof vest when Jesus is saying “Trust me and do what I say”. Let us not forget the tension in Christianity where striving for moral purity and influencing the world for Christ are both commands we must obey – we cannot forsake one for the other. Christianity involves great risk – you risk your comfort, your reputation, your safety, your possessions, your job, your relationships, and so on. If we’re going to be men and women who are committed to our great Master, then we’ve got to stop protecting our comfort and step outside of the Christian bubble both spatially and relationally.