On withdrawing form the culture…

This concept of spiritual growth is faulty for several reasons.  First, it neglects the second of the most important commandments, to love others as we love ourselves.  Loving is a doing verb – it implies, in fact, necessitates action.  Loving others requires us to go outside of our spiritual bunker.  By loving others, we can grow that area in our lives that remains stagnant when we isolate with likeminded and like ethnic peoples.
Second, this model neglects the area of serving those who are in need.  In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus describes a scenario where our destinies and our judgment will be based on the outworking of reaching out to those in need.  Jesus did not go to those who were like Him (and then again who was truly like Him) but He came to minister to the sick and not the well.  (Mat. 9:12).
Third, we are not fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 when we disengage form the world.  The main charge of the church is to make disciples – to increase numbers.  When we hide away in our spiritual caves, surrounding ourselves with ethnic, spiritual, economic, and cultural sameness, we neglect the charge to reach out to those who are different to bring them the Gospel and help them in their journey into the Kingdom.
Let’s take the parable of the Good Samaritan of Luke 10:25-37. The Samaritans were a group of people who were considered by the Jewish people of Jesus’s time as a mixed breed of people.  Israel was in a state of apostasy and religious rebellion since its split from Judah in 931 BC.  God punished the people when Israel was overtaken by the Assyrians in 722 BC, killing the strongest of the Jews, carting off the intelligentsia to Assyria, and leaving the poorest least educated to remain.  Babylon did the same thing to Judah in 586 BC.  As was the custom in those times with Empires, the emigrated other conquered peoples into that same area.  These foreigners with their foreign religions inter married with the Israelites who remained.  The blood lines of the tribes were blurred and the purity of their religion was further obscured.  When the Jewish people returned to their land in 538 BC, they had stayed, for the most part, religiously, and ethnically pure.  When they encountered the people, who had stayed in the land, who were known as Samaritans, they were despised because of their impurity and they were left out of the rebuilding of Israel.
By the time of Jesus, around 30 AD, the Samaritan people and the Jewish people despised each other.  Only the Pax Romana kept the two from wiping each other out.  The Jewish people considered the Samaritans unclean, impure in religion, impure in bloodline, and were to be avoided at all costs.  Any interaction with a Samaritan would result in ceremonial and religious uncleanliness and need of purification.
Per the Gospel, we are to engage our neighbors in the way of the Samaritan.  We are to care for those whom society would say we are at odds with and love them because Jesus loves them.  This love drives the true church – the church unspoiled by the entrapments of political or social pressures – to call out and stand against institutionalized injustice.  It was the church that led the Abolitionist movement of the 19th century.  It is the church that leads the abolitionist movement of the 21st century.  It is the church that is engaged in changing hearts (which leads to changing laws) concerning protection for the unborn.  When the church is being the true Bride of Christ, then the members are charged and engaged in reversing social injustice.
To be on mission means to be doing the work of Christ – feeding the poor, preaching hope to the hopeless, visiting those in prison, speaking out for those who cannot speak.  The world needs the church to be on mission, that is the way God uses us for His mission.  Sitting back in our culturally comfortable bunkers is not an option.
This work will be not be done quickly.  Our timing is not God’s timing.  Change will come in His time according to His plan.  Take for example the work of Arthur Blessit.  God called him to mission by carrying the cross around the world, preaching Jesus to all that would hear him.  This was a 40 year 38,000-mile journey – on foot (for the most part).  It took time.  That time was spent on mission, and each step he took, and each step we take, is important to that mission.

Discipleship Spiritual Formation

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