When I was at university I went along to help out at a Christian Union event in fresher's week. The CU would put on ‘alternative’ events for people who didn’t ‘fancy the ins and outs’ of the normal uni freshers week. A brilliant service for students who don’t want long nights of drinking and dancing.
Her face becoming a little less smiley
Just before one of these events started (I think it was a pub quiz night) I started chatting to a girl who had just started her undergraduate degree. She was a fresher. The normal chit chat went on, where you from, what are you studying, do you like the new city? That kind of thing. When I then stepped out, having worked out she was a Christian, and said, so why are you not out in the clubs with everyone else? Her answer was so frustrating. “I'm a Christian!” she said with a smile on her face. My face was blank and I said...”yes...” Her face becoming a little less smiley, she said “I just don’t think it's great for Christians to be in that environment with so much sin.”
friends house parties
There are perfectly good reasons to avoid these kind of situations as a Christian. If one has an issue or a history with sexual lust or alcohol, and for all I know this may well have been part of this girl's history that I wouldn’t and shouldn't have known about. We need to be aware of our own difficulties and aware of where we as disciples can be caught in our own sinful struggles. These are often places to avoid, and I would recommend if you struggle with excessive drinking, for example, then you avoid the places where you know you will be tempted to fall into that, like friends house parties. However, this is very different from the impression I got from this girl and so many other Christians I know, who avoid certain situations because they are not ‘Christian places to be.’
I went out, I drank, I got high
My own history is peppered, and if you asked people who knew me when i was young they would ask why I was writing this? When I was young I did exactly what I am about to say we should not be doing. I went out, I drank, I got high, I got with girls and I got involved with the world that I knew I shouldn’t have. All the more, I mixed this rank cocktail with preaching the Gospel, I was a very strange hybrid. Like a Toyota Prius. I spoke to many people about Christ, prayed with people and saw the Spirit move in all these places, but I also chose to slip purposely into the culture.
I was in the world, but my fear of being a weird Christian meant I was also of it at times, whilst still claiming the name of God, managing to worship the Lord the Sunday after the Saturday. The grace of God was being abused in my life. We should not be of this world.
we are here, sent by Christ to be lights within it
Jesus said so clearly in John 17 that we are called to be in the world but NOT of it, because we are people of heaven. Once we belong to Jesus we are no longer of this sinful world but we are holy in the eyes of The Father. Therefore, we are not of this world, and should not act as if we are. We are of Christ’s and our home is with Him. The sinfulness of this world is not of God, however we are here, sent by Christ to be lights within it, to call people out of this darkness.
How are we to do that if we avoid situations that we would call ‘sinful.’ We can’t.
Matthew 5:14-16.‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
We are weird, because we look like Christ
Weird Christians are one thing, but isolating ourselves from people is and would be ‘weird’ to Jesus. He certainly didn’t do that! Just read any of the Gospels. We are weird, because we look like Christ, and we will continue to be weird, but it's a weird that people seem to like. It's a counter-cultural weird, were we enter into dark places and people are drawn to the light that shines within us. The Holy Spirit makes us look different, and from my experience people are fascinated as to why we seem so different. Be weird, by not doing what people do. Being at parties, but not drinking in excess. Being in those friendship groups, but not using that language. Purposely talking to those people that others avoid and outrageously loving people beyond there deserved quoter of love.
My thought is this. Weird Christians are Christians that avoid sin by avoiding situations. Attractive Christians are Christians who avoid sin whilst living dangerously for the Gospel. Being like Christ in those places that need him. Not hiding out light, but beaming it in dark places.