My Christian Ghetto

There are two great temptations every Christian faces in regard to how he relates to the world. The first is that which we are most familiar with, that narrative of a boy taking his inheritance early and running off to cavort with heathens.

Stay out of pool halls. Check.
Don’t rush down to Cancun on Spring Break. Check.

I was in Bible College when I started hearing about the second temptation, to withdraw from the culture-at-large and hang out with only Christian friends. Some people referred to it as “the Christian bubble” that arena wherein inhabitants are shielded from the evil realities of the world out there.

Jesus famously instructed, “Be in the world, but not of the world.”

Okay, Jesus.  You lost me.
Are you saying you want me to go to Cancun?
Not exactly? Well, then I don’t get it.

I really liked that verse though it may have been the eisegesis talking.

It meant that I could go to the pool hall or to the beach or even to a bar to hear a band but I had to go as a Christian.

I could go anywhere but I had to go in the name of Christ.

I didn’t think much about that part. I just used it as fodder for people who wanted to tell me what kind of places good Christians should go and what kind they shouldn’t.

I’d tell them, “in but not of, brother.”

Conversation over.

In any event, I knew better than to shut myself off from sinners. I figured making connections was a necessary ingredient in making converts.

That lecture could be reserved for someone else, someone less spiritually astute.

Besides, who would want to live in a ghetto?

All this time, I’ve been proud of myself for getting that right but then I realized something: I’ve made my own Christian ghetto.

In theory, I will be friends with anyone. For the most part, this holds true in reality. I have many friends who share those basic conceptions of God and others who do not. I like to think that people feel accepted by me.

With me, there’s no need for anyone to censor themselves or perform.

But Twitter is a different story.

I had a follower who saw the humor in my tweets. I followed him back because I thought much of what he had to say was funny. Until one week when the bulk of his tweets were, by my judgement, in poor taste and by his admission delivered with the intent of attracting attention.

I told myself that this was not good for me. After about 2 minutes of deliberation, I unfollowed him.

I could have messaged him about it but I didn’t. I could have treated him with some respect and had an adult conversation about what bothered me but I didn’t.

When I checked his account, a week later, I saw that he had reciprocated my unfollow. Now he’ll never see when I tweet about Jesus.

Opportunity squandered.

It got me to thinking. I took a good, long look at who I follow on Twitter. Most of them are a lot like me.

A majority fall into the category of Christian, white guys, 18-34, with a mild to moderate flair for hipster chic who say everything like it’s ironic.

I followed them in my own image.

Not only is it boring to be homogenous, but it is also not a very good model for how to do church. We are to make disciples in His image, not our own.

What does it say about me that I tend to connect with people who are so much like me? Probably, that I am a narcissist.

It means I’m not as accepting or friendly as I’ve led myself to think. It means that I haven’t put enough thought into how to live like Jesus. It means I’ve gotten comfortable and lazy.

Are you living in a Christian ghetto? Do you like it there?