Just How Set Apart?

Just How Set Apart?

Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community by Brett McCracken

Together Empty Church is embracing the uncomfortable. Join us as we dig into Brett McCracken's new book Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community and uncover all the parts that make us uneasy about our faith, uneasy about being friends, and uneasy about building a church that realizes that comfort is not the goal of Christiantiy.

I simultaneously loved and hated Brett's chapter on holiness. I’m going to start off with what I had a problem with. He starts off this chapter talking about a time where he got so drunk that it was humiliating and sinful and he was very convicted because of his friend after the whole ordeal. I didn’t actually have a problem with this part I know Brett stance on alcohol and I like that he put in the chapter that he realize that drinking to that amount of excess was sinful so this part I don’t have a problem with. Actually the rest of the chapter in light of this part. 

On page 62 Brett talks about not being conformed to this world and talks about how Christians want to blend in. He brings up examples of college Christian colleges abandoning their policies on sexual conduct and for Christian Christian business owners to provide services or insurance policies that compromise their beliefs

Here’s my problem, doesn’t Brett's drinking habit help him blend in even if done in moderation? He talks about how nobody would’ve been able to tell that it was a group of Christian ministers, to me that is blending in. I don’t know if this is what Brett had in mind but a Christian baker not being able to bake a cake for a homosexual couple yet he doesn't completely abstain from alcohol... I know it’s not a one to one comparison but it seems wrong to say that those types of things are compromising in the business world but it’s not compromising for him personally to indulge in something that he enjoys. We could make an argument that having an uncomfortable faith might mean giving up something that isn't wrong wrong but might "make someone stumble" like alcohol certainly has the ability to. Where is the line? What makes something right or wrong in certain situations? 

So how set apart is set apart enough? The holiness movement brought a daunting legalism that now has a generation who swung in the opposite direction in response. Movies that are in the realm of pornography. Bowling. Roller skating. Sex drugs and guitars all now have found their way into Christianity in response to the letter of the law and not the spirit. 

Is being set apart like the Amish or a monk? I don’t think so. Those examples seem to be outside of the world rather than IN but not OF. It's like they have opted out. Jesus’ prayer over the disciples does not imply a group of people who are removed from the world but people who have gone out into it while being set apart.

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
— John 17:13-19

We are commanded to go into all the world making disciples.

This is not accomplished by being so are removed from the world that we live in our own commune never to interact with the world, but it is neither accomplished by looking so much like the world that no one knows that difference.

In my search for clarity on rules and scruples, I found one thing to be true, being set apart is being obedient to God. We can dicker on the price all we want but seeking to obey God is the start of Holiness. I know people will continue to argue over what things we can and cannot do in order to obey God. 

The most challenging thing about this chapter is all the ways I am not set apart or holy. Even worse was how it is not cut and dry. But exploring holiness has shown me that my motive must be out of obedience to my creator. It does not matter what I can get from holiness but obedience is the means and the end to obeying.

I must love God that much.

And that is uncomfrotable.

About the Author | Sean Kready
An imperfect Christian, who sins on the daily, but tries to share his journey so that we all might know God better. This is our offering. An act of worship.

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