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By Nick P.
















When writing about a dichotomy in the Christian view, I suppose the first question to be asked of the average man, since I've gotten this several times is "What is a dichotomy?" Merriam-Webster defines it this way:

1 : a division or the process of dividing into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities
  
So what am I saying? I'm saying I see within the church and with the church itself divisions that don't need to be there. I see them in the way the church operates within the world, the way the church operates within itself, and the way the Christian can operate within himself.

Let's start with the way the church operates within the world. The church is told to be in but not of the world. This is a true command, but I fear we have taken it to an extreme which Christ never meant. After all, Christ routinely associated with the world. In fact, he associated with it so much he became incarnate.

When we read the gospels we see that Christ was routinely hanging out with prostitues and tax collectors and all of these hideous "sinners." Surely then, Christ was not against fellowship with sinners. Furthermore, I would dare say that he wasn't in "preacher mode" the whole time he was with these people. Could it be possible that every now and then Christ was just being a friend to these people?

Steve Brown tells the story of a friend who calls him one night and invites him to join him at a bar. The friend is a non-Christian. Steve Brown, for those who don't know, is an evangelical Christian who hosts the Keylife radio program and has the voice that makes God jealous. Wanting to be a good witness to his friend, he went met with  him. His friend brought along a lady who happened to be a hooker. When she went to the restroom though, the pagan friend confessed to Steve that all the people were sick but then added, "Don't get me wrong. I'm sick too. The only difference is that I know it and they don't."

Someone asked me "If your pastor was to go to a bar to meet a non-Christian and just hang out with him, would you approve of it?" I told him, "Not only would I prove, I'd hope he'd invite me to join him." Now I don't know everyone's feelings on drinking. I don't think drinking alcohol is a sin. I think getting drunk is! Let me also add that I don't drink alcohol simply because I don't want to open myself to temptation. I'm already addicted to Sprite after all.

I recall going to a jazz club once where a friend had his son's band performing. Now I don't know a thing about jazz, so I went and sat at the bar. I just had a Sprite but I figured, "If I'm going to talk to the people, people often open themselves up more at bars." In fact, thinking about it, I would say people would be more willing to share their problems with a bartender than a religious man. Is there a problem there? I would say so.

What this person was doing though, was creating a dichotomy. It was the view that "We are the holy Christians within the church and out there are the sinful pagans and never the twain shall meet." If that's our view, we have a problem because we can't help them if we don't meet them. At the second great church council, the main speaker there said "What is not assumed is not healed." The debate was on rather Christ was fully human or not and the point was that if Christ did not assume our humanity he could not heal it. Apparently, Christ wasn't afraid to meet us in the most powerful way possible.
  
There was a time I was over at a friend's house checking some things on his computer while his family had dinner, and all of a sudden, his Dad mentions evolution. I don't believe his Dad is a Christian so I conveniently went in and discussed evolution some.

Time-forward a little bit and this friend has two other friends up soon. We're in his room playing his PS2 and personally, I'm wiping the floor with these guys. Then everyone just stops and out of the blue my friend asks, "So why don't you believe in evolution?" Now friends, I wasn't talking about religion in any way then but here are three people I can suddenly speak to. Evolution leads to creation and then the resurrection and finding meaning in life. Now after I've said a lot, I realize I've probably overloaded them, so I say, "Guys. Let's turn on the games again." I'd given them enough to think about.

Did it make a difference? I can't speak for the other two but that friend of mine had a class on creation-evolution in college later. He told me he thought the people brought in for the creation side were purposely weak, and called me and asked me if I had any information I could give him to copy on problems of evolution. Friends, the only way I was able to get in that memorable conversation was by being willing to break the dichotomy.

And yet, it is as this point of pleasure that so many have problems. How many times has Christianity seemed to separate itself from pleasure? People sometimes consider me a hedonist seeker of pleasure. You know what? They're right. What's so wrong about that? Am I supposed to seek doom and gloom? Pleasure is God's idea. He created it.

This is often seen to be "worldly" though. Friends, let me be clear. Some things are worldly. Getting drunk is a sin. Pre-marital or extra-marital sex is a sin. Going to see a movie with a pagan friend isn't a sin. Going out to eat with a pagan friend isn't a sin. I'd say just look at Jesus for our example.

And how much has this been shown in sexuality? It seems the church has made sex a hands-off issue. It's the topic that you just don't discuss at church. Well, that's nonsense. We should discuss it in church because it's discussed in the Bible. There's a whole book on sexuality in the Bible called the Song of Songs. I often wonder about these people that want to make it an allegory of Israel and God or the church and Christ to avoid the language. Yeah. I know you can apply it that way but why can't we also take it at its basic point? It's a book about sex and it belongs because God created that.

If it wasn't bad enough how the church treats the world at times, how about how the church treats its own members. A friend of mine told me recently about how they would charge members of other churches to have weddings, and about how they just put the new carpet down and it didn't need to be ruined. My personal response to the carpet was, that if that's the way they felt about it, I'd recommend getting a blowtorch and burning the carpet to pieces.

How many times has the church seen itself in competition. I am a Baptist myself but I will have no problem preaching at a Restoration church or a Methodist church or a Presbyterian church. It's all the universal body of Christ to me. However, not only do we sometimes war between denominations, but we war within denominations. It's our church vs. the other church.

Now if church basketball teams wanted to get together and compete in a game, that's fine. However, our ultimate purpose is not a game. We are here to save souls, and we are all on the same side. In fact, let me make a point about this in the area of dichotomy. When we are witnessing, it's not "Us vs. them"

This is a mistake many of the cults make. Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are in the truth and anyone else is of Satan. The worst thing we can do in many ways is to do things that will feed into that worldview. Islam often sees non-Muslims as being of Satan as well. In both of these beliefs, it's quite easy to hate your opponents and in the case of Islam, to murder them.

However, the Christian view is like a line from the Matrix. In that movie, reality is supposed to be under the control of Aritificial Intelligence and the world around is to an illusion created by AI to keep us from seeing we are being used. Morpheus is the leader of a small resistance group and is showing Neo, the one he expects to save the world, what the world of the Matrix is like in a computer simulation. Morpheus points out that these people are not the enemy. They are the ones they are fighting to protect. However, these people are capable of being controlled by the enemy and we must be careful at that point. That's our irony, the ones trying to stop us are the ones we're trying to save.

That's why I say it's not us vs. them. It's us vs. the ones behind them. They are the ones we are trying to protect and rescue. We can't set up that boundary where we are against them. In the song "Army of love" the chorus chants to the world outside at one point, "We are not the enemy. We are here to set you free." We need to remember that. We're not going to set these people free by alienating them. Jesus sure didn't.
  
But what about the last dichotomy? What about the way the Christian lives within himself? How many times have we separated our Christianity from certain aspects of our life? I think of pleasure again. Is it too hard to believe that when we are having pleasure, we are still Christians?

I recall role-playing with friends many years ago. I knew that when my character did something, it was in a fantasy world. However, I also knew that I was still a Christian. I would try to act in a Christian way. I could not cease to be a Christian no matter what I was doing.

Jon Schneider plays the role of Jonathan Kent, father of Clark Kent, on the hit TV series "Smallville." (The very best series on TV.) An article in Christian Singles magazine highlighted what a role Christianity played in the actor's life. He said he routinely talked to the younger actors with him about the Bible and that the script writers at times would not include certain scenes and lines because they knew "Jonathan won't do that." Because he is a Christian, there are some things he has to avoid. Being an actor in a TV series does not mean he is not a Christian. Since he plays one of the good guys, why not use the best example of Christ as a role model after all?

Friends, our Christianity is to integrate every aspect of our lives. In discussing sexuality with a friend recently, I realized he hadn't allowed Christianity to integrate that aspect of his life. I can't blame him. The church has again made this the hands-off topic. What are we to think though? God didn't make guys male and females female and that he didn't create the system and the hormones that run it? Is it just that when a couple is on their honeymoon that God is supposed to be suddenly absent? This might freak some people out, but God is just as much there as he is any other time.

We can't keep taking off the Christian hat and then putting it back on. It must remain on us. Our doctrine must be the same way. I think about the doctrine of the Trinity. Christian theologian Fred Sanders calls this our birthright, but so few Christians understand it or bother to, but every Christian doctrine at some point intersects with the Trinity. Instead, it's this doctrine that we don't touch and we only get out when Jehovah's Witnesses come by so we can beat them up. Christian apologist Greg Koukl says he's only heard one sermon on the Trinity and he was the one who preached it. Sadly, I can say the same thing.

So what are we to do? I remember the words at the destruction of the Berlin Wall. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Let me say it to us. Christians! Tear down this wall! The time has come for the church to break the walls of separation and effect the world like never before.

So now, let us let the walls fall.

In Christ,
Nick
















Email the author at ApologiaNick@wmconnect.com