Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Opposite of Withdrawal

It doesn't take a genius to figure out where all this talk of withdrawal is heading. It's been hinted at in some of the comments, and it's something that I feel very passionately about -- so much so that a big portion of the parenting book revolves around it.

Christians often feel compelled to withdraw out of fear. They're afraid they might find themselves polluted by their involvement with non-Christians. That was Pete's argument, and he had Bible verses to justify it. Granted, they were taken miserably out of context, but they sounded valid. We're not supposed to have anything to do with the world, right? We're not supposed to love the world or the things of the world.

And, as lots of Christians like to say, "It's all about souls." Souls are all that matters, right? So, all this other stuff is just re-arranging deck chairs on The Titanic. It's all going to perish, so why bother with it?

That sounds kind of biblical. But it's not.

See, our goal is this whole endeavor is not to be biblical. Our goal is to be Christlike. So, when our biblical analysis ends up making us less like Jesus, something's gone terribly wrong.

Jesus left an environment so perfect we can only imagine it through pictures and analogies in order to enter a less-than-perfect world. He could have chosen to withdraw, but he did not. He engaged with people. He fed hungry people. He touched and healed sick people. He chose to live among us -- even though he did not have to. He engaged with people who were of a lower status than he, and, in doing so, he elevated them. He left the world -- temporary though it may be -- a much brighter place than he found it. And he calls us to do the same.

The Incarnation -- Christmas itself -- is the opposite of withdrawal.