I am often disturbed by the way my fellow Christians respond to the world in which we live. When confronted by the friends, family, media, art, literature, film, government, or education that do not share our Christian worldview we seem to only respond in one of two ways: Fight or Flight.
In this post I’d like to describe these two responses and suggest a better and more Biblical response to the world. Given the nature of blogs, I will be brief. Thus, my thoughts will not be fully developed. Nor will possible concessions be made at every point. I hope you would be honest with yourself with the “buts” that pop into your mind.
I will be the first to admit that there is a time to fight the world or flee the world, but we should first try to make friendships with those who are different from us.
The “fight” response aims to keep our values at the center and force them upon others. Those in the “fight” camp get angry (often rightly so) that the world is embracing a worldview that is different than their own, so they fight back in an attempt to defend their worldview.
Believers who “fight” are rightfully hopeful that their worldview can be restored, but they believe they can do so by power. Their hope is often misplaced. They attempt to change people and institutions through media, education, and government.
The “flight” response aims to keep our values at the center by creating separate communities of like-minded believers. Those in the “flight” campus get scared (often rightly so) that the worldview of others will infect them and their children, so they flee in attempt not to be influenced by the world.
Believers who “flight” have rightly assumed that they will be opposed by those who embrace a different worldview, but they believe that change is hopeless. They don’t attempt to change culture, but instead create subcultures to protect themselves from the world.
Jesus was often called the “friend of sinners.” He had a different response to the people and institutions that did not share His worldview. Make no mistake, His world was equally filled with oppression, immorality, and false teaching as ours is today. Still, he befriended people, knowing that friendship with the tax collectors, prostitutes, government leaders, religious leaders would give him even greater influence.
In Jeremiah’s day, the Israelites had been taken captive to the Babylonians who did not in any way share their worldview. False prophets told the Israelites to do one of two things. Some said fight the Babylonians because God is with us. Others said flee the Babylonians to other countries. God had Jeremiah write them a letter that described a better response to “the world” that held them captive. See if it does not sound more like friendship, finding ways to bless the world instead of fighting against it or fleeing from it.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sentthem,” declares the Lord.
Justin Christopher is the national campus director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Project and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.