Today’s musing may only be relatable to my Christian readers, but everyone is so welcome to weigh in! My hope for this blog is that it would ignite a conversation between us, rather than be just a one-way dumping ground. I like to mull over things in my mind; and it’s nice when others share their thoughts, because I then gain another perspective, which helps me learn and grow.
Today’s topic is about what I’m going to label as Christian cloistering. I’ll tell you how it came to mind: One day, while I was at work, a woman told me she was so ready to leave the Seattle area and move the heck outta this state. I think I commiserated with her re: the endless rain. I mean…it really is endless between January and March. Most of us have asked our doctors about installing gills, and we eat Vitamin D like it’s candy. At least I do.
Anyway…she said something like, “Yeah…plus, my taxes are going up, and I just hate the values here–everyone is so l.i.b.e.r.a.l.! OMG, a fate worse than death! Let me tell you something – to all my Jesus following friends, I am pretty darn liberal, and to all my non-Jesus following friends, I’m pretty darn conservative. These labels…oy. Can you envision my eyes rolling with the love of Jesus? I didn’t roll them in front of her. Because I used my faulty-but-better-than-nothing filter. At any rate, I gathered enough intel to understand that she is a Christian, trying to raise her family in what is, quite honestly a very spiritually dark area of the country. The Northwest is not an area where one typically hears a lot about Jesus. It just isn’t. In fact, we hear a lot NOT about Jesus. When I drive my son to one of the most renown universities in the state, I see store which clearly sells and celebrates items from the occult. I have rebuked Satan often as I drive by–rebuked his influence from these young, curious, incredible minds, who were made in the image of God, Himself. So, I can see how it would be much easier and more fulfilling to move to a spot where more people shared the same religious and moral beliefs. It’s tough to be a fish out of water, so to speak. But when we believers choose to cloister ourselves from others, how does that help them? Shouldn’t we be more ignited to share about Jesus in these dark corners, rather than giving into our comfort, convenience, and fear by moving away from them? Jesus told us to love Him more than anything else, and love our neighbors as ourselves. He also shared many parables about how important lost people are to Him. Hit me up if you want to read any, and I’ll link you to some. Lastly, his final instructions to us included saying that we needed to go out and share His love to the ends of the earth, noting that He would never leave us, and would even send a Helper (Holy Spirit) to indwell us! We have no reason to ever feel alone, because if we accept His gifts, we know we aren’t alone. Again, this is easier said than done, I grant you. Why? Because when we live in an area that doesn’t reflect our personal values, we can love Jesus all we want, but, being human, the lack of community hurts. So, when we find people who ARE OUR PEOPLE, we cling to them. Or at least I do. And, yeah, it’s very important (and Biblical) to seek out the community of like-minded believers. But it’s equally important to reach out, after we’ve been “filled up” with that like-minded love.
Look, as Paul says, “I am the worse of these (sinners)”, and I really am when it comes to what I’ll call mini-cloistering. I’m not moving off the grid into a compound, but I can honestly say that it’s muuuuch easier for me and usually more fun for me to be with my similarly believing friends, whether in regards to politics, religion, or preference for Taco Bell. Anyone feel me? And there is time for that. But God isn’t about my comfort as much as He IS about His glory and loving the lost ones–our neighbors, both near and far. In my opinion, Christian cloistering, whether mini or not (sin is sin, no?) is a real show of a lack of faith. Yes, we must guard our hearts and be in and not OF the world. But if we’re so busy trying to protect ourselves that we fail to live and LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY and SACRIFICIALLY among people who don’t think the way we do, to me, that’s a lack of trust in Jesus and the Holy Spirit in us. Christians will be persecuted, whether by sneers and jeers, or even by violence–and that sucks. Most of the disciples were martyred for their faith. Certainly Jesus was martyred for His. We must trust that God is with us, even to a bitter end, because we also trust the eternal picture of life after this blip on earth. I’m exhorting us all to live out our trust by loving those who aren’t like us. We are free to love as Jesus loved, because he loved us, first.
What are your thoughts on so-called Christian cloistering? Do you see it where you live? Is it hard for you to love and hang out with people who don’t know Jesus?
Much love to you.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” John 10:10-17 (NLT)