Seperation Vs. Redemption

My Mom was born during the first third of the 20th century.  As she was growing up there were certain rules she needed to follow in order to be a “good Christian.” These were not the usual 10 Commandments or Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount.  These rules were more about how a good Christian would interact with society and culture. These rules went something like this, “Don’t drink (alcohol), don’t smoke, don’t play cards, don’t gamble and don’t go with boys/girls who do!”

This attitude reflects a separatist mentality when it comes to the collision of church and culture. This is what H. Richard Niebubr called “Christ Against Culture.” This perspective of the Christian and culture, “affirms the sole authority of Christ over the Christian and resolutely rejects culture’s claim to loyalty.”*

But, if the God fearing, Christ-like Christian is to not have any interactions or involvement with…

We would never hear of Saul and the witch of Endor. 1 Samuel 28
Sexual Immorality.
We would never hear of Judah and Tamar. Genesis 38
We would never see Peter doing it. Matthew 26:74
We would never see it perpetuated on Jesus. Matthew 26:67-68
We would never hear the bizarre story of the Levite’s wife who was murdered. Judges 20
We would never hear about David and Goliath. 1 Samuel 17
We would never read about Abraham saying Sara was his sister. Genesis 20:2
We would never read of Peter’s interaction with Simon. Acts 8:9-24
We would never hear of Paul recommending wine to Timothy for his stomach issues. 1 Timothy 5:23
We would never see Jesus talking with, challenging and casting the out. Matthew 8:28-34
We would never be encouraged by Paul’s conversations in Athens while on the Aeropagus. Acts 17:16
Prostitutes and Sex Workers
We would never have seen Rahab rescue the spies of Israel, nor would we read of their promise to protect her and her family. Joshua 2

Christians have to be exposed to these taboo subject and topics in order to engage with Scripture and the brokenness of the world around them.  This does not mean a good Christian has to participate in any of these taboo topics, but they can’t completely separate themselves from them either. Jesus reminds us of this in his high priestly prayer of John 17,

“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” verses 15–19

Just think of the condition of humanity if Jesus took this “against culture” posture. Their would be no incarnation. There would be no substitutionary atonement. There would no death and resurrection. There would be no forgiveness of sins. There would be no salvation!

In order to be a living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) we need to be wiling to see what can’t be unseen. We are going to have to go places that make us uncomfortable. We will have to get our hands dirty, so others might become clean. We are going to have engage a culture, a society and a world that clings to all that is unholy.

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say,
‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Matthew 11:19



*H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, New York, New York, Harper Collins, 1951, pg. 45


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