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May 23rd, 2009


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11:03 pm - In the world but not of it?
Someday I will make a lengthy post on this topic, because I think it's something that Christians in particular must constantly revisit, but is also a concept that can be useful to those who are not religious but who do subscribe to the idea that the world is kind of messed up and we need to be careful and intentional in how we engage with it, with each other.

For now, though, just a thought that occurred to me driving home:

So many people see the corrupt side of our society, and choose to withdraw rather than try to deal with it.
I understand the frustration that can underlie such a choice; or the fear (after all, it is true that "bad company corrupts good morals"); or, for that matter, the deep desire to set oneself aside for the worship and love of the Creator.

My own choice has been more along the lines of my icon: as Christ did, I set myself in the midst of the darkness, trusting to Him for courage to do so, for the strength to hold to His love and wisdom, His grace to remains set apart even as I live within patterns of thought, action, expectation which are utterly opposed to the type of love He showed me and saved me for.

Sometimes I wonder whether that's enough. Society can be corrupt at a level that makes some level of compromise almost inevitable, or so it seems at times. Is that true? Is it a tightrope that we walk, to our constant peril (and is it worth it to reach others in the darkness)? Or is the love and grace of God truly strong enough to hold us tightly, to guide and teach us even in the midst of a world that stands on its head and protests that it is walking upright?

And do we trust Him enough for that faith to rule our lives, both in loving compromise where we can, and in uncompromising love where we must?
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(11 lit candles | Light a candle)

Comments:


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From:mosinging1986
Date:May 24th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
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Drat, I gotta run out the door!

But I was thinking along the same lines yesterday as I walked my neighborhood and prayed. Let's just say it's very rich in some ways, but spiritually it is a wasteland.

I thought God put me here. If I am not here to pray for it, who will?
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:May 25th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
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And who knows how much of a difference your prayers are making, even if you can't see it? It's amazing to think about.
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From:whitemartyr
Date:May 24th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
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I love you. I love your heart, your mind, and how you ponder things so deeply. You are such a great friend and human being and I'm so glad you exist here and now and are my friend.

P.S. I really want to visit you and for you to come to Mosaic with me sometime...

And... this post has me thinking a LOT of thoughts all at once. I love that icon by the way.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:May 25th, 2009 03:59 am (UTC)
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Aw, thank you! I'm glad my thoughts can bless you and make you think too. :) (Did I ever try to make you watch Babylon 5? I must have, I was sooo hooked on it when I got to TWU....)

Hey, maybe we can go to Mosaic if you do manage a trip here. :) I think from what I've heard I'm happier at Bel Air than I would be there (I'd be even more out of place!), but it would be cool to visit and hear a sermon there for sure.
[User Picture]
From:whitemartyr
Date:May 25th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)
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Yeah I didn't mean for you to switch churches, but that it'd be fun to go with you the first time :P

*HUGS* You did try to get me into it but I wasn't that receptive. Alas... I love the ideas you tell me about it though, like this Ranger guy.
[User Picture]
From:scionofgrace
Date:May 25th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
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I guess I don't look at it quite the same way. We are called to respect and obey earthly authority, and we are supposed to be "in the world", engaged with people who do not know God. Jesus did not hold himself apart from anyone, but he constantly engaged them on a level and in a way that they weren't expecting, with love and respect and justice.

Which is the hardest way to do things, really. My ancestors tried to remove themselves from the world as much as possible, which is easy because living with like-minded people is always easy. And it's just as easy to hide away what makes us different and act according to the world's expectations. But we can also live like we just stepped in from a completely different culture, like we're ambassadors from a completely alien world. We're here to make connections, but not to change what we are.

(Of course, the hard part for me is finding those bits of worldly philosophy that have got into my thinking without my realizing, and change them to what they're supposed to be.)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 25th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
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I'll cautiously 2nd scionofgrace. Are we to be fishers of men in the sea, or on fish farms?

--Hatthief
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From:izhilzha
Date:May 25th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
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Re: your first paragraph: isn't that what I said? I think I'm puzzled as to what, exactly, you're disagreeing with. What did you hear me say that I wasn't aware I was saying?

But we can also live like we just stepped in from a completely different culture, like we're ambassadors from a completely alien world.

See...I don't know if this is entirely true. We can certainly live differently in some ways, make right choices where others don't, but if we're engaged with people and the world around us (as I believe we are called to be, as Christ was) we *do* often end up internalizing "worldly philosophy" without intending to. Or, at the least, there is always the possibility of that. We are, in fact, a product of our own age, to some degree.

I may be coming at this from a slightly different angle because I'm hyper-sensitive to the fact that many Christians I know seem to be weirded out by my move to L.A. and my life here. Their view of being set apart is not like mine, they have rules that I don't see in Scripture, emphases that I don't see contributing to engagement with the world around me--and I'm trying to figure out what the "rules" actually are. Trying to figure out how to trust the Lord more as I move out in this engagement with the world. Does that make sense?
[User Picture]
From:scionofgrace
Date:May 25th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
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Argh! (not at you, at me) I know I'm not saying what's in my head... it's frustrating...

I guess I've always had a pretty strong "outsider" feeling in my life, that I'm wandering around in a world I don't fully understand and don't really belong in, yet which I like to be involved in and which has people in it that I need to get to know. I don't know if this is a personality thing or what, but in any case, having reconciled myself to the idea that "I'm the weird one" helps give me the courage to act in ways that the world thinks are weird, but which are right. I guess you'd say my end goal is to be a Godly eccentric.

I would hazard to say that Christians who don't understand your move to L.A. are certainly not in the right, and quite possibly in the wrong. I think what you're doing makes perfect sense: any place where Christianity is the minority is a mission field, and we just plain need people in media writing stories about true things. "We've a story to tell to the nations" and I don't seen any restrictions on the identities of the nations or the manner of the story.

I don't believe there's any division, in the end, between being Godly and engaging the people of the world. It's what Jesus did (and of course he did it perfectly). That doesn't make it easier for us, because we have that desire to be liked, and to imitate what's around us. Which makes it easy to make it an either/or proposition. Also, I don't think it's about rules or choices so much as it is an attitude. The rules we set (and we have to set them, for ourselves) and the choices we make are outworkings of who we are and what we believe. Though it's possible to have the rules and choices first, just to train ourselves or as stepping-stones, the start and the goal is where our heads are.

Does that make sense, or did I just derail the argument?
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:May 25th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)

The argument was not derailed :)

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Okay, now I think we're in agreement, because I'm not finding myself disagreeing with anything you wrote here. I too have always had a rather strong "outsider" feeling, though perhaps not quite as strongly as you seem to--I haven't yet found a place/way to settle down, quite, much as I would like to. (College is the closest thing I found.)

I guess you'd say my end goal is to be a Godly eccentric.

That's awesome. :) We need more people like you.

I don't think it's about rules or choices so much as it is an attitude. The rules we set (and we have to set them, for ourselves) and the choices we make are outworkings of who we are and what we believe.

*thinks* Yes. That sounds quite right. The thing about rules is that I have an orderly and logical mind, yet I also have this crazy storyteller's passion to understand the workings of the human mind and heart. Which sometimes leads me into the rather scary (and not altogether wise) position of trying to reconcile what I see of how God made the world with what people tell me their experience is. Which is, at best, a way of engaging with the world and learning languages (if you will) that I don't know; but at worst it can lock me into fear of becoming something I know I'm not, just by staring into that abyss.

Anyway. That's probably a bit of a derailment, right there. :)
[User Picture]
From:scionofgrace
Date:May 25th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)

Re: The argument was not derailed :)

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The thing about rules is that I have an orderly and logical mind, yet I also have this crazy storyteller's passion to understand the workings of the human mind and heart. Which sometimes leads me into the rather scary (and not altogether wise) position of trying to reconcile what I see of how God made the world with what people tell me their experience is. Which is, at best, a way of engaging with the world and learning languages (if you will) that I don't know; but at worst it can lock me into fear of becoming something I know I'm not, just by staring into that abyss.

Oh, I totally know what you mean. I wonder if that's a symptom of a pluralistic society as well as just one of those dangers of wanting to identify with and understand people. Your Christian faith tells you someone's story must be wrong, but you don't want to write them off ('cause they're people), and their worldview has plenty of evidence in its favor. I think it depends on how far I get in to a particular idea as to whether I can digest and rethink people's experiences so that I can see what's really going on, or whether I really should just run away and hide for awhile. (Jesus did that a few times too, so I think that, in moderation, it's justified.)

This is going to sound cynical, but one way I deal with this is to acknowledge that not only do people never know the whole story and tend to interpret facts according to their own views, but that 100% of the human population is lying to itself about something, usually without realizing it. (I know I do it.) So the stories we hear are completely true, "from a certain point of view."

Which is actually where telling stories comes in handy, 'cause they can be recast and told from new perspectives and help people to see something they may never have suspected was there.

I see your derailment and raise you a complete tangent!

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