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Insular

Updated: Nov 26, 2020


Humans have always been insular. “Birds of the feather – stick together” is still true. Christians tend to hang out with other Christians. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Except Except that if all our friends are Christians, the only radio we listen to is Christian, and our only national news channel is FOX, we are insular.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?… Therefore, come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 6:14, 17

Christians have often quoted this passage to justify being insular. And I’d be the last person to encourage close friendships, business partnerships or marriages with anyone not committed to Jesus.

However, Jesus did go out of his way to have intentional relationships with non-believers. They weren’t his closest friends or partners in ministry, but Jesus was the least insular person I know in scripture!

Breaking free of insular. I listen to NPR. I also watch CNN. As a Christian, I need to know what non-Christians are thinking, are talking about, so I can be informed and engage in conversations with them. Is their news and commentary biased, even untruthful at times? Yes! Do I agree with everything those news outlets say? Of course not! That’s not the point.

But when I meet with non-Christians over a cup of coffee at Starbucks and can quote something I heard on NPR or read in the New York Times, I have credibility. It’s a bridge God has allowed me to use to foster redemptive relationships with both non-Christians and young Christians slowly loosing interest in God. Redemptive relationships are friendships with a redemptive, spiritual purpose.

Your children or grandchildren are getting their “news” from even more unreliable sources, and for the most part, you don’t know how much of that they are believing because most will be afraid to tell you. Unless you are an informed parent or grandparent, and actively engaged in conversations about current events, and social and ethical issues, many of those false worldviews will go unchallenged. And if you come straight out of the chute and are just openly critical of their ideas, they’ll never discuss them with you again.

We have three grandchildren who attend secular colleges and universities. Their classmates and professors are secular with a capital S. I make a point of meeting regularly with them and discussing the news, current events and asking about the attitudes of their classmates and friends on campus. I want to know what non-Christians are discussing so I can feed our grandchildren a biblical worldview on those subjects.

Ask Ask your children, grandchildren or those you mentor, “What are some of the big ideas, or topics being discussed on campus, or in your world, about life, ethics and religion?” No matter the answer, my counsel is, just keep asking questions, rather than trying to refute those ideas. Play the long game.

There will be an appropriate time to respond, once you have a solid understanding of their personal worldview on these topics. But it’s been my experience that a quick “put down” of an idea Christians don’t agree with, will likely cut off future communications on those topics. Wise Christians must learn to take a punch occasionally, to stay in a redemptive relationship.

Here’s how I think about my friendships: When I meet with my Christian friends, I can relax. I’m in safe territory (generally). But when I’m meeting with a non-Christian, I have to be “on my game,” begging the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom, pursuing that relationship, ultimately to introduce them to Jesus.

When Jesus hung out with tax collectors and other sinners, do you think he sat stone-faced quoting scripture and only having spiritual conversations with them? I doubt it! That would be the last party he ever got invited to.

We don’t have much to go on regarding what he said on these occasions, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t comment on the wine, popular music, the latest moves of the Roman government and his sadness over social injustice. All of these would have given him great credibility with his “friends.” But this we do know. Jesus was so comfortable around and engaging with sinners, the religious leaders thought he was one!

So, do yourself a favor, begin listening to some “fake news” then begin praying for a thoughtful, biblical response, then look for opportunities to share the good news, the true news, with those who are also slaves to insular thinking.

How following Jesus works in real life.

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