To a peculiar people

Friends have felt a call to become a peculiar people. They are those who have chosen to radically conform to the image of Christ, and put aside the things and attitudes of the world. To be fair, Christianity as a whole is called to conform to Christ, and his mindset.

The Evangelical Friends of Mid America, where I hold my membership gives the following advice:

Our members should avoid attending or being involved in movies and theatrical performances of a demoralizing nature, in dances, and in other activities that may be injurious to Christian growth. Members are not to be involved in lotteries, wagering, or any kind of gambling. Friends should take care to avoid pornographic publications and publications tending to undermine their faith in the authority of the Scriptures and to hinder their Christian growth.

Though acknowledging certain benefits and the potential for Christian ministry in radio and television, Friends must also recognize and avoid programs which are unwholesome or demoralizing in music, language, or action portrayed.

This is a discipline of separating ourselves from the world, and from mental influences that pull our mindset from the mind of Christ to the mind of the world. How can we expect to be chaste, when we fill our mind with the world’s lust? How can we expect to be loving when we fill our hearts with the world’s hate? As Paul writes we must not be conformed to this world, but transformed. (Romans 12:2)

The problem is, that we live in this world — though we live as foreigners. Too many of us are embarrassed with our Christianity, and instead of being the light to the world, we invite the world’s sin into the church and embrace it, Isiah 5 calls a curse to those who call darkness light, and evil good. If we embrace the sinful attitudes of the world, and defend them — this is exactly what we are doing.

Of course, the standards that I accepted when I joined my faith community, which I cited are merely something that I do not do. It is very easy to not do things (unless it is stopping an addictive behavior), but I could not very easily do nothing and think on nothing. When we say that we do NOT do something, we need to replace these things with something else. As we are not thinking about promiscuous sex, hatred, revenge, greed, and gluttony we need to replace our sinfulness with something more meaningful. Paul gives us a hint when he writes:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (NET)

We need to put aside the sinfulness of the world, and instead embrace what is excellent and praiseworthy. We need to put aside the works of the flesh, and embrace the fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:19-29) We cannot afford to be people of this world — instead, we must grow into proper citizens of heaven.

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8 comments on “To a peculiar people

  1. Ok — “dances” dates this section a little, I admit — saying that all dances are demoralizing is a lot like saying that all movies are demoralizing… perhaps the language needs updated, but the message is spot on. We need to separate from the sinful attitudes of the world and take on a transformed mind.

    (That being said, as I honored the standards of my faith community, and did not go to dances).

  2. Charity says:

    I was a rebel and went to three school dances! And I watched Boondock Saints yesterday and found it oddly entertaining. That being said I agree with the basic principle of separation and of being transformed by that on which we focus our hearts and minds.
    I wholeheartedly agree that the absence of sin does not a saint make. Jesus said this in the parable of the spirits that were expelled and returned with more of their evil friends to find the house swept clean and waiting for them!

    • Charity, YOU were a minister’s kid, I went through a personal selection process and chose joined of my own free will. You rebelled against silly rules that were imposed against you :-) — I accepted them as part of my choice.

      I have mixed feelings about the prohibition on dances. Originally it was because of a view that dances are made to fill people with lust, and unfortunately if that was true then it is more true now.

      However, this view is rather limited — it assumes that there are no dances that are innocent, I think that this was a mistake. What I would like to see is this advice rewritten in abstract…. perhaps this would be better:

      “Friends should seek first God’s Kingdom, and live according to the fruits of the spirit instead of the works of their flesh. They should be careful to abstain from activities based in lust, greed, hate, or gluttony and instead choose activities which build us up in Christian Love”

      I think we should respect that there will be differences in Christian conscience among people who intend to honor this, (some of us don’t own a TV, others follow pop culture closely). I would like to see the uniform rules removed :-) but, I prefer the rules to no statement at all.

  3. forrest curo says:

    “publications tending to undermine their faith in the authority of the Scriptures”?

    You can hardly learn anything at all about the Scriptures without discovering that they are the flawed work of human hands. And how can something have “authority” if you aren’t going to devote your best efforts to learning the full truth about it and what it’s saying?

    It’s no accident we have these scriptures; there is a lot you can learn from them about how God and human beings have interacted in the past… including the fact that God did not see fit to give us inerrant scriptures. Instead we got scriptures that only make decent sense when God helps us see the depth of meanings available in them. When people make the book itself their authority, trying to read it like a lawbook… they end up “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

    It makes sense for people to avoid entertainments that only disturb and corrupt them. But to avoid reading anything that might threaten their ignorance– That seems to suggest too much faith in a book, too little faith in the God it’s about.

  4. Marilyn Sizer says:

    I think the graceful miracle is that by seeking first the Kingdom of God and inviting the Christ Spirit to come and dwell in us BECAUSE we Yearn for that union;we ARE gradually transformed in Mind and body and spirit so that we are no longer so attracted to thoughts and visions (materially or metaphysically) that are not “of Kindness, Beauty and Respect” with ourselves or others.What used to seem exciting or desirable changes as we grow more towards the persons we are in conjunction with the Spirit.

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