There is a dangerous philosophy out there that says that in order to know something I have to experience it. It’s part of the abortion debate, part of the Iraq war debate, and it’s also a part of being a Christian. We reward people who have “been there, done that, have the tee-shirt”.
However, as a Christian I feel that this logic is flawed– and downright dangerous.
First, we would never suggest that a child has to go and play in the street so that they can get run over so that they know what it’s like to get run over and therefore they can minister to other people. Adam and Eve experienced sin, but they did not need to– and we would argue that they should have avoided sin.
And yet this is the very thing that some are encouraging Christians to do in the name of being able to reach the world. Arthur– a regular commenter here at MInTheGap– used a post the other day (The Winds of the World) to highlight this very philosophy:
Is it unwise to listen to worldly music? If you are affected by the music of the world, I recommend you abstain, but if you can listen to it without taking it into your spirit, I recommend you expose yourself to it all the more. In doing so you may be preparing yourself for a new adventure with Christ that you never would have dreamed previously. Again, I say, see much of the world, so much as you do not take it into yourself and become like it. For if you will witness to the Jews you must understand the Jewish culture, and if you will witness to the Greeks, so you must understand their culture. Likewise, if you would witness to the rich white suburban populous you must understand white suburban culture, but if you would witness to the urban black people you must understand black urban culture. So, will you be prepared to witness to someone outside your culture when you meet them? Will you be prepared to talk to the suicidal drug addict? The prostitute? For none of us were any better before we came to know Christ.
Now, my first problem with this concept is that he implies that it is possible to somehow immerse yourself in the music of the world to somehow gain understanding of the world and not be effected by it. I would remind Arthur that you are a product of what you take in– what you let into your body through each of the senses impacts who you are, whether you are aware of it or not.
Take, for instance, hair growth. My wife likes my hair short and spikey. I like it parted. At some point, I’ll recognize that it’s getting too long to spike, and I’ll go to part it, but just around that time my wife will tell me that I need a haircut. She notices that it’s long. Same thing with people that haven’t seen you in a while and you have done something different– they notice because they aren’t living your life every day.
The problem with taking music in (or anything for that matter) and thinking that you’re unaffected is that you’re not the best one to judge. And furthermore, God says that we’re supposed to be spending time thinking on things that exalt God.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
This verse is saying that what we should be doing is attempting to fill our hearts and minds with things that honor God– not things that are like the world. Nowhere is there a command in Scripture to immerse yourself in things of the world, but we are commanded to immerse ourselves in the things of God.
But where this really gets sticky is at the end of his post.
- Should I start taking drugs so I know what it’s like to be on it and to go with withdrawl? (You have never done this man! I can’t do it!)
- Shall I visit the house of prostitutes, or prostitute my body so that I can minister to other prostitutes? (You need to know how to deal with a trick that’s trying to kill you! I have to keep putting out.)
We may have been no better before we came to Christ, but we are a new creation. Old things have passed away and all things have become new. Paul also tells us not to be conformed after the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind. I take this to say that Paul’s more interested in us spending time filling our minds with the Word than spending time getting acclimated to the lost and dying world around us.
We call people to a higher call, a higher standard. We need to live that too.