“Be In The World.”

There are a handful of Bible verses that have always stayed with me. One of the ones bothering me today is from Romans 12: “Be in the world, but not of the world.” 

Whatever we believe in, we still have to live in the world around us. It does us no good to shut the world away and stay inside our comfortable belief zone where we only interact with others who believe much like we do. I’ve known people like that and they get … strange.

I quite like the fact that I have a much wider social group than my church. I have a secular job which has a social aspect. I am part of a writing group and that is definitely been a gateway to a whole raft of other friendships. I could say it’s been a “liberating” experience.

This was made apparant this afternoon at a friend’s place. He was having one last hurrah in the house before they moved and so a cadre of friends from a number of walks of his life came and went throughout the afternoon. One in particular was someone from his past who had really clicked with me. We get on so well it’s a damn shame she’s married. It seems like we see the past the crap in our lives and can accept each other as genuine. She’s gotten up to some things in her life she is afraid to tell our mutual friend about but understands I won’t judge her for them.

She was gobsmacked when our mutual friend expressed distaste at some girl-on-girl action in a recent live-action fantasy TV series. This despite being fully aware the series is rated R. This despite knowing about nudity and violence in same. 

I’m a lot more on top of my sexuality than most men I know. I know this partly because I’ve watched men come face-to-face with that of themselves in a very honest and non-threatening place. I’ve worked closely with a gay man, two of my best friends are gay (one male, one female) and I’ve done some difficult but rewarding research about my own tastes. This friend of mine has been through a different road, but no less instructive and we both wish those around us had done that, too.

The problem she sees is that our mutual friend is too tightly bound in his Christian friendships. I can’t completely agree, but I can agree that sometimes he seems a bit sheltered. 

I’m reminded of a similar incident at church one evening where the pastor was talking about sexuality to some extent and the prudish giggles were getting annoying. It was a night of interruptions, fortunately, and the pastor was encouraging this, so I spoke up to point this behaviour out. I don’t think this really achieved anything at the time, but I like to think that at least someone might have been struck by the fact that whatever it was we were talking about, it is possible to talk about it in a serious way. Without being embarrassed or inappropriately amused. Or whatever.

I think this is what happens when Christians who aren’t really “in the world” encounter people who might call themselves Christian who do live in the world, especially where sensibilities clash.

I have learnt how to attend social events without being a “christian wowser”. Mostly because that’s just not who I am. But also because I want to be able to connect with these people. There are whole ways of living life I’ve never been a part of, but by gum I want to see more of them.

I’ve been sheltered long enough.


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