August 7, 2009

Part V: Sheltered

Too Political

The last post in this series was very difficult for me to write, but this one... not so much. The concept of 'being sheltered' means that we are "out of touch with reality". Well, I don't see this as so much of a bad thing. It isn't that I think being sheltered is OK, but I don't mind being thought of that way.

As Christians we are supposed to have a dramatically different way of viewing reality as the rest of the world. This means that we are going to act differently, and we are going to abstain from things the world thinks are good. Naturally, the world will view this as being sheltered. However, the term applies to a variety of different ideas, some which we need to work on, and some which we don't:


There is a certain portion of Christianity that has become anti-intellectual. They avoid education and deeper understanding of their own faith and the world. They reject science completely, and push their own agenda, which is often nothing more than a grand parroting act. It is little wonder that so much of the world sees us as ignorant fools.


There exists a belief in many that Christians don't really know what real life is like. The reason why a lot of upper-class and middle-class youth look up to lower-class role models is because they believe the roughness of the lower-class life is more real than their own. It is similar to the story of The Prince and The Pauper: someone seeing danger and need as exciting, and, too some degree, more real than the life that he is living.

Christians, on the other hand, are very much the complete opposite. They don't seem to have as many hardships; they don't seem as worried; they abstain from the things that the world says brings fulfillment in life. To some degree, it seems like we live in a bubble.

This isn't entirely bad, since it is nothing negative to show that God takes care of His own. What's bad is that often we stay in our bubble, and we don't go out into the world to take care of the despondent. I'm reminded of St. Francis who was a rich man that gave up all of his possessions to live among the poor and minister to them.

The Good Life

Not only does the appearance of the good life makes us look naïve, it also makes people who are experiencing pain feel disconnected. They believe that we cannot possibly understand what they are going through. Therefore, how can we help them?

Of course, much of this isn't true. Many Christians came out of the very kinds of lives that these people are living in. We can help them because we are not offering our own experience, but we are instead offering the person of Christ, who can speak into any situation.


By disinterested, I mean disinterested in the real problem. This is something that many of us are absolutely guilty of. Many times we try and develop formulas about how to handle certain problems. The problem is that formulas are, by nature, impersonal, and what these people really need is for you to invest into their person lives. Let them know that you are concerned with them: with who they really are. We need to treat their problems on an individual level, instead of treating it as an obstacle for our real goal.

Final Thoughts

This is only a brief sample. I'm sure I could come up wit more if I tried. There are always two extremes when it comes to this question. The first, we care so much about connecting with those in the world, that we become just like them and are left with nothing to offer. The second, we care so much about doing things properly that we isolate ourselves from the world entirely. It is good to be seen is something different, but it is not good to be seen as something unapproachable. It's about balance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great topic!

Our Lord Jesus explains Israel's vocation in terms of being called to be light and salt to the world (Mt 5). For us, the people of God, this means we cannot retreat (shining no light, salting only ourselves) neither can we integrate (turn the dimmer down, lose our saltiness).

Wright's understanding of Israel's (and the Church's) vocation to be a light for the world, the image of the invisible God is immensely helpful in empowering and justifying Christian action in shaping our world and combating the tendency to gnostic dualism where we escape the evil world by secret knowledge which we call "faith".

Our "social action", so dismissed and belittled by conservatives is part of our Great Commission to spread the Gospel. For, as Jesus says:
let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Good Deeds -> Shock -> Praise -> Conversion