Wineskins Archive

December 19, 2013

AfterGlow: Worldly Christianity (Jul-Aug 1997)

Filed under: — @ 11:09 pm and

by Phillip Morrison
July – August, 1997

27Worldly Christian. Is it just an ungainly oxymoron? Or, is it the ultimate reality?

Of course it’s an oxymoron. Worldliness is one thing and Christianity is another. There can be no concord between Christ and Belial, just as there can be no coexistence between light and darkness. Billy Sunday used to say that we might as well speak of a heavenly devil as a worldly Christian.

On the other hand, it’s reality. Christians are put on this earth by God. When he gets ready for us to be somewhere else, he’ll take care of the moving arrangements. I understand the frustration of people who complain about how evil the world is, but I always remind them that it’s the only world we have. We are here to be salt and light and leaven – to make a difference.

When I heard that Farrah Fawcett, at age 50, posed nude for Playboy magazine, I realized that there is quite a difference between “Charlie’s Angels” and “Touched by an Angel.” And I thanked God that spiritual entertainment (another oxymoron?) has come to the world through television.

In an early movie about the Titanic (the latest one keeps being delayed), people were running around shouting, “Who’s in charge here?” Mark tells about another boat, and a time when storms were raging. Jesus said, “Peace, be still!” and the winds and the waves knew who was in charge. He still is.

I don’t remember (and maybe I never knew) the name of the author, but the spirit of these lines has haunted me for years:

Some want to live within the sound of church and steeple bell.
I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.

That’s the spirit that moved teen-ager Sarah Andrews to ask her family to send her to Japan as a missionary rather than pay for a wedding. She never married, and stayed in japan for almost 70 years, including the World War II years. Imprisoned by the Japanese, she continued to minister, sharing her meager food ration and her life. “Yes, I went without food,” she would say later, “but I was never hungry.” She chose to live in Japan and be buried there with her people. She knew the difference between being a pilgrim and a settler; she knew the virtue of traveling light. You don’t know Sarah Andrews? You’ve never seen her name on a monument or in a book? No matter. God knows; her name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Chuck Colson knows about being worldly and about being Christian. In his book The Body he writes with fervor about the challenge of being a Christian in a hostile world. One of his chapter sub-headings quotes Ernest Southcott: “The holiest moment of the church service is the moment when God’s people – strengthened by preaching and sacrament – go out of the church door into the world to be the Church. We don’t go to church; we are the church.”

* C.T. StuddWineskins Magazine

Phillip Morrison

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