A Plea Against Christian Isolationism
15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. John 17:15-16 (NLT2)
Without worship we go about miserable; that’s why we have all the troubles we have. You wonder why young people act like such idiots. Some young people have a lot of energy and don’t know what to do with it, so they go out and act like idiots; and that’s why gangsters and communists and sinners of all kinds do what they do. They are endowed by God Almighty with brilliant intelligence and an amazing store of energy, and because they don’t know what to do with it they do the wrong thing. That’s why I’m not angry with people when I see them go off the deep end, because I know that they have fallen from their first estate along with Adam’s brood and all of us together. They haven’t been redeemed and so they have energy they don’t know what to do with; they have capacity they don’t know how to use. They have skills and don’t know where to put them, and so they go wild and police have to arrest sixteen-year-olds and put them in jail. If they had been taught that they came into the world in the first place to worship God and to enjoy Him forever and that when they fell Jesus Christ came to redeem them, to make worshipers out of them, they could by the Holy Ghost and the washing of the blood be made into worshiping saints and things would be so different
He always wants to remind us to recall the First Commandment, that he is our God; that is, that he wishes to help, comfort, and protect us, so that he may restrain our desire for revenge.
 If we could thoroughly impress this on people’s minds, we would have our hands full of good works to do.  But this would not be a preaching for the monks. It would too greatly undermine the “spiritual walk of life” and infringe upon the holiness of the Carthusians. It would be practically the same as forbidding their good works and emptying the monasteries. For in such a teaching the ordinary Christian life would be worth just as much, indeed much more.
They saw that the work of the cure of souls (Seelsorge) brought joy (Freudigkeit) despite the burdens of office. When God’s love is in motion, there is joy even in the midst of sorrow. And never forget it: Your ministry is God’s love in motion.
We live in an age of monasticism. Perhaps not in dark, gloomy, castle-like buildings centered around, and protecting the sanctuary, but the church has grown more and more isolated in the decades I have been alive. Some form this isolation by trying to protect the church they treasure, the beliefs and practices that have given them great peace at one time, which they remember, if not experience daily. Others see themseles as missional crusaders, those that venture forth from the walls of the church, in order to draw people into their lifestyle. Truly this group has grown as isolated as those who try and protect their traditions, as they rely on their visions and mission principles and para-church agencies. We even invest in politics, aligning ourselves with those we feel are the most willing to protect our way of life.
It is as if they both believe that because we are not of this world, we have to create a lifestyle that is apart from the world. And so churches add to their facility their own restaurants and coffee shops. Our own bookstores, our own universities that are becoming less and less open to the spiritually unwashed masses.
And then we complain about the world that we send to hell in a nice wrapped up gift basket.
Tozer’s wrote the words in purple at a point when I was young—maybe even before I was born. He wants to complain about the idiotic things people do, but he realizes they do those things, using the gifts God’s given them, because they don’t know God. That means if there is someone to be “mad” at, it is the Christians in their lives who have remained silent about the love of God.
That’s right, if anyone can be blamed for the state of America today, (and most of Europe) it is the church who has retreated into its sanctuaries and tried to defend them from evil! Do we not get the truth of the first commandment? That God, Who has already delivered and saved us, who is protecting us, has sent us into the broken world, just as He sent Jesus into the world to save it? Just as God the Father and God the Son sent the Holy Spirit into our lives, that we might help save others?
We are to live right in the middle of the world, that souls may be cured of the illness of sin, and the ignorance of God. I love the last sentence in the quotes, our “ministry is God’s love in motion.
Stop avoiding the broken, stop complaining about them and condemning them, go walk besides them, helping where you can. Stop being a modern monastic, and instead find the joy of seeing God heal others….and then you will experience peace and joy in ways beyond anything you could think or imagine.
Lord, help us to live as we do in church, in our lives with others. AMEN!
A. W. Tozer, Tozer for the Christian Leader (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2015).
Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 413.
Harold L. Senkbeil, The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2019), 279–280
Posted on June 10, 2022, in Augsburg and Trent, Book of Concord, Theology in Practice, Tozer and tagged dwelling, life in the world, Missional, Monasteries, Tradtion. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.