Come Out From Among Them

On this rainy morning after Jennifer and I saw the boys (really grown men who happen to be in their teens) out of the house for their respective educational and athletic adventures, we readied ourselves to head to work. Usually, I’ll swing by the garbage to throw our trash away on the way to the office, and I was just having a good time in the Lord’s presence, thankful for his word, thankful for the Holy Spirit, thankful that he answers my prayers, even thankful for the cold rain. 

I dropped the trash, and my thoughts shifted fairly quickly. I started coming back to the familiar sense that has been sitting on my soul for quite some time. How long I’ve “felt” this, I can’t say for sure. What the sens is, I’m not quite sure either. Is it a feeling, a weight, conviction, passion? Whatever it is I can’t quite name it, and apart from this time period of having this sense, I’ve never quite experienced it. “It” comes when I find myself going back and forth between the positions we find ourselves in as Christians that seem to generate so much animosity among people who are on the same team and orbit in my personal circle of influence or relationship.  

I don’t experience this when I’m in India. I don’t experience it in Turkey. I have not experienced it in Afghanistan. I seem to only get this sense when I’m home and engaged among Christians here. Side note: That’s also why I keep trying to lead my family to leave and go, and God seems to keep hindering it. Perhaps escape is the wrong motivation. Don’t judge me. 

How do some vote one way and justify it? How do some vote the other way and justify it? We all seem destined to have to choose a platform over a person or a person over a platform. We all seemed destined to have to choose the “lesser of two evils”. 

Then, we have a tendency to wonder, usually to ourselves, how those guys who call themselves Christians could do such a thing. That side says that about me, and I say that about the other side. Why do some believe this and others believe the opposite when it seems so clear? Why don’t some see this issue as vital and paramount while looking at lesser things, and then my friends would say the same thing about me? 

Then, I come back to the mystery of how we all, and by all I mean those I know the Spirit of God dwells in them and they are daughters and sons of God and we have witnessed the testimony of the Spirit that we are family and the Spirit dwells in us together, how we all can be on such opposite sides? 

That “sense” that produces these questions leaves me tired and sometimes hopeless. 

Listen, I’m under no illusion that the answers to these musings are simple. I know there is a complex web of culture, values, life, experience, even theological applications at work, and I also know that I don’t have answers. I’m coming aware and with questions only. I guess some can call me weak.  

What I experienced this morning as my joy in the Lord’s presence moved to a shadow of this “sense” was what perhaps Abraham felt when the Lord came to him in Genesis 15. It was sort of dark, but not evil dark. It was emotionally moving, and it was inescapable. In the “sense” this morning, I heard the Spirit whisper from 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 about as clearly in my soul as the music was in my truck. Crystal clear. Word for word, “…come out from among them”. Here is the entire passage. 

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (CSB) 14 Do not be yoked together with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said:

I will dwell

and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they will be my people.

17 Therefore, come out from among them

and be separate, says the Lord;

do not touch any unclean thing,

and I will welcome you.

18 And I will be a Father to you,

and you will be sons and daughters to me,

says the Lord Almighty.

I’m a competent exegete, and I know what comes before this Scripture and after it, and where Paul is preaching from to the Corinthians (Leviticus 26, Exodus 29, etc.). I understand what he was saying to the Corinthians and its application for them, and I have to get to some application in the present for myself. 

Here is what I know. This is not a call to leave the public square where we make disciples. We are called to the public square. Anyone using this Scripture to justify not being in the world to make disciples has left orthodoxy and they are going down the wrong road. 

What I do believe this Scripture is calling the Corinthians to, and we present-day Christians by application is to not be yoked in foundational ideas and presuppositions and practices that cause us who are actually citizens of the kingdom of God to find ourselves in opposition to one another and thus opposition to God who has made us one in Christ. 

Listen, I know it’s complicated, but what if we refused to be co-opted by dark and temporal philosophies that appeal to our personal tendencies or ideas that are birthed out of our darkest parts and experiences, and leaned into the belief that we are really one body with one king and one ethic and one constitution called the bible? What could we construct? 

I know some will read this and dismiss it because it does not offer any “real” answers. That’s ok. 

The final “things” I knew I had to do when this “sense” came at me and that Scripture was whispered in my soul was 1. Share it. 2. Don’t forget. 

So, I’m sharing it as incomplete as it is, and I hope that by sharing it I won’t forget it. 

Maybe that “sense” is given by God to cause me to come out from among thoughts and ideas that have no place in my soul and find a home in the kingdom of God as a political, philosophical, and theological homeless family in the current world system. 

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