When seclusion seems like a better option than evangelism.
We love our space so much that we’d rather be alone than be with others. Facebook has been huge in our idolatry of social isolation. Not only just Facebook, but social media altogether. We have created an invisible line between us and others that when crossed it can cause a bad attitude. Here is an article that explores more on the social isolation of our culture by Justin Taylor of The Gospel Coalition. The problem with loving our space is that it keeps us from encountering unbelievers. If we have a difficult time approaching them outside our home then it is that more difficult in letting them in our home. If you are a Christian, God will either bring opportunities to you or tell you in your heart about an opportunity for you to act on. If neither occur then you are not evangelizing, and you need to examine your heart if it truly aches for the lost to be found.
A couple of nights ago, as I was watching a basketball game at the school where my wife (Callie) teaches. I caught myself frustrated at Callie because she was nudging me as I was more engaged at reading an article on my phone than paying attention to the ball game. I snapped at her by saying, “What!” She was getting into my space. I was at the game watching, but I wanted to take ten minutes and read an article that one of my friends just posted. I was rude to my wife because she intruded into my space. There were a lot of people around me including my wife, but I still felt the selfish need to be in my zone as I was reading an article on my phone. Social media has made it easy for us to focus on the wrong things. I was watching a basketball game that I was enjoying, but a notification went off bringing my fingers and eyes to a word filled screen that was interesting. However, the more important thing was for me to spend time with my wife, holding her hand, and rooting for the young men who were fighting for a win in the 4th quarter.
““Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” Matthew 2:36-40
A week ago, my wife and I welcomed in a young man who was a vacuum salesman. Do you ever have people come up to your door, whether it be Jehovahs Witness’, or the UPS guy? Do you usually let those folks in? Oh, only if they have something that is yours do you greet them, right? Well I’d admit that if I don’t have to sign anything I’ll let the UPS guy just leave the package out on the doorstep. I don’t do that. But it is helpful to point out that some people actually do this. The young man shows us what the vacuum can do. At first I was a little uneasy. There was actually a guy before him that knocked on our door. He talked fast, gave me a gift card, and walked right on in. (Afterwards I saw that since I “accepted” the gift card that was his ticket in) I was not happy with the guy. So the other guy comes in to show us the vacuum. About halfway through I recognized why I was so uneasy. This was my space, this was my “property” that I pay month to month to live on, and someone that I don’t know is in my living room with a two thousand dollar vacuum! I saw my selfishness, and changed my attitude. His name is Freddie, and he is not in a church. He lives in Fort Smith. His father died when he was 16 to pancreatic cancer. He has had several jobs. He is twenty-two years old. If God wouldn’t have changed my heart, I would never have given him the time of day to share his life with me in those two hours that he was in my space. But God did.
It is not a welcome mat on our doorstep or a holiday greeting on the door, but the hearts of the people inside that determine a hospitable home.
Freddie believes that God saved him at the age of 6, but now understands that Christ commands the body of believers to be together. I understand that isolating ourselves from others is becoming the Christian way. We only want to be around others if they are our family (if that), they love us, or they have something we can gain by being around them. We are becoming a selfish people conforming to an individualistic culture. I learned this week that God established the church as a place that believers could come together no matter what race, occupation, class, education, mental state, physical condition, or past sins. I asked him if he had a Bible. I asked him to answer it honestly. He told me he didn’t. I gave him mine (I have so many more I could just give away) along with a book that I treasure called Knowing God, written by J.I Packer.
I hope Freddie finds a church. I hope a church accepts him as a part of their fellowship. Going forward I hope that I am more loose with my space both physical and heart space. There should always be more people welcome in our heart. If Christ has truly replaced our heart of stone with a heart of flesh then I believe it is our duty to welcome random encounters with people we have never met. Strangers has such negative connotations.
I believe God allows our paths to mesh with others so that we can either 1.) affirm the person if they are in Christ 2.) share the gospel regardless if we know they are Christians or not. I also believe that we should not pick and choose who we run into (thats called partiality) and trust God to bring whoever our way. In Gods divine providence He chooses who we come into contact daily. We are placed in our jobs for the purpose of evangelizing to our coworkers. We are placed in our schools to evangelize to roommates and classmates. We are even placed specifically to share the gospel at the supermarket, down aisle 4 where the bread and crackers meet. How seriously do we live our theology? Isolating yourself from others doesn’t cause the gospel to go forth in your life and you are not being obedient. When we don’t try to freely encounter other people whether it be a knock on our door at night, or a stranger stopping you to ask a question in Walmart. Take your time, let go of your idol of seclusion, and take advantage of the divine opportunities God gives you to bear true witness of His gospel.
In Him who is able,