There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, “Mine!”1
There exists a mindset within modern Evangelicalism, taking its cue from natural human conceptions of spirituality, of disdain for the elements of this world, in exaltation for those ethereal aspects of the Kingdom next.
It manifests itself in the Christian retreat to our separatist enclaves in hidden valleys, hoping for the wolves to pass over without bothering to ransack our abodes. And to date, the wolves have been largely satisfied to leave Christendom alone in their private realms in a false peace, while they consolidate their dominance in the public sphere.
It manifests itself in the Christian surrender of the mind and culture and all aspects of living except for and thinning personal morality and theology. A truncated and reductionist theology is increasingly orphaned and alienated from every other aspect of human existence and endeavour. It hangs suspended in the ether, disconnected from prevailing conceptions of objective realities; this latter development, undermining its credibility and resonance.
It manifests itself in a withdrawal of interest in the things of this world and that which befalls it, especially as the world rapidly swirls into intensifying decadence, except to protect Christendom’s own diminishing turf and self-interests. In this bubble of ersatz super-spirituality, such readily disparage as worldly, those of their peers who retain keen interest in human affairs.
It manifests itself in the disdain for the people of this world, in a mindset that sees those Others as substantively different from themselves. These neighbours; from amongst whom, they were called; are perceived more as adversaries to be eventually trampled upon than fellow sods to be won. Ventures into assisting the less fortunate out of programmed Christian duty are undermined by a palpable disdain, distrust and fear toward the very ones they purportedly seek to reach out.
But as in virtually all aspects of the Christian life, there is an equally opposite and detrimental mentality that conceives Christ as culture warrior. They do not merely see these earthly elements as vehicles, by which the Christian ethos can be exemplified. The danger from these other Christian folk is not their self-imposed retreat from society into irrelevance; but of attempting to coerce the dominion of God over all things upon their unbelieving neighbours; the latter, who in their unregenerated state, cannot even conceive of the rationality and virtue of the Christian ethic. However, discourse on that mindset is reserved for another occasion.
However, there is a nuanced and narrow middle path, through which the true Christian pilgrim must navigate through; enjoying the carnal and natural gifts of God without becoming mastered; being interested in the things of this world without being entangled; exhibiting Christ in all ‘profane’ matters, while being circumspect as to the extent that the Christian ethos can or should be impressed upon society.
Life is not divided into two areas of sacred and profane. For, all things are sacred; “all things indeed are pure”2. There is little distinction between earthly elements and spiritual elements; since the righteousness of God can work through both types of elements and evil can work through both types of elements. The “Kingdom of God is already in your midst”3, although “not of this world”4. It does not exist in some esoteric future.
1Abraham Kuyper, Inaugural Lecture of Free University of Amsterdam, 1880
2Romans 14:20. Also Titus 1:15