Leaving The Basic Principals…
This is from Dan Allender’s book — The Healing Path — which I read years ago. (One of my clients was just so incredibly gracious as to type out and email me the key part this evening…) It’s been the foundation of my thinking with respect to activism for years.
What are the basic principles of the world? They are the lists of dos and don’ts that rule almost every social engagement and establish the boundaries for acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. They are the conventions of respectability that announce you as a full member in good standing or, in their absence, mark you as a philistine, a poseur. Whether we are in third grade, at a trade convention, in the foyer of a church, or on a tennis court, we hate to wear the wrong clothes, say the wrong thing, or be dismissed for being different.
We all know that the rules are seldom (if ever) written and announced. The most powerful rules are unstated and assumed. We long to fit in. We feel awkward when we are outsiders and shame when we were once inside but now are no longer accepted. What gets us in and keeps us inside? Following the rules – approving of those who are impeccable in their performance, viewing with derision those who are not. As long as we align ourselves with the power base of whatever group we wish to enter, we receive the benefits of membership and avoid the liabilities of being a stranger. But as Christians, we are called to follow our father Abraham and by faith depart from our country, class, race, subculture, and family. We are to be in the world, but not wage life according to the basic human principles that determine good and bad, in and out.
“In but not of” requires we belong while always retaining an awareness of our first loyalty. Does this involve a “leaving” that calls us to give up our very identity as constructed in the matrix of citizenship, class, race, subculture and family? Yes. Does loyalty to Christ call us to be prophetic and disruptive to every group and person with whom we engage? No. We are called to a particular time, place, group, family, and person. Without an ability to enter the world of the particular others God has placed in our lives, however, we will never gain access to disrupt them and offer them a taste of the bounty of Christ.
We should strive to “fit in” almost every way that gives us access to those we are called to love but without ever buying into the basic rules required to be a full-fledged, 100-percent, card-carrying member of a particular group. We should never blindly support any group or person – no matter if what brings the group together is a theological flag, moral issue, counselling orientation, or church denomination.
Why? There is something wrong with every culture and group, and to affirm any as the basis of identity and the substance of life is to find a home rather than to live as a sojourner.
In my mind, this is one of the most eloquent declarations of war ever written.
It’s a covert war — a guerrilla war — of the highest order. Its mission, to infiltrate every aspect of society, to learn its ways, to understand how it thinks so clearly that you appear to be one of them — while always waiting for the moment to strike a lethal blow destroying the fabric of evil that places the minds and hearts of its members in bondage.
Its goal? No, it’s NOT to make them stop sinning. Its goal is to replace their legalistic bondage with that which terrifies both religion and society equally: a double punch of real live intimacy with the living God and the all-inclusive liberty He died to make their inheritance.
Oh ya — reread the above. What is Dan implying is its first target? That’s right — so-called, “Christian culture,” and the rest of what passes as the Church.