The Christian youth must definitely avoid two extreme positions with respect to the world round about him. In our last article we listed theses as infiltration and separation. The former is virtually practiced when a youth either carelessly or deliberately inspects all the angles of worldly life: becomes linked with rioting, drunkenness, chambering and others. It is rather easy too, not to mention tempting, to become a partner of these evils since our flesh (the old nature within us) is delighted therewith. But this strange program of infiltration is not for us, our superiors taught us to be a friend of Jesus. And were they right? To be sure for such is the testimony of the Word.
However with maximum of enthusiasm we also denounce the position of separation. Of course one does not belong in the very hub of worldliness, you have no business being where the world is exposed in the rough, in its ugliest forms, yet to withdraw from society in general where the fields of labor and bargaining are found is equally foolish. Such withdrawal is utterly wrong. In our tasks, in our bargaining – marketing and purchasing – we are precisely called to let our light shine that men may see our good works and so glorify our Father who is in heaven. Hence the only proper world and life view for the believer is: In this world but not of her.
I fear in some way or other we are apt and tempted to fall, in some degree at any rate, into these evils. Often contact far too intimate is established between the believer and the evil world; then again distance far too great is created between believer and humanity. In this editorial we would just like to treat the “great distance” often created by the believer and then call it by the proper term, isolationism.
Yes, we are called to be a separate people and its meaning I explained in a previous article. No, we are not called to stretch this separateness into isolationism. There is a difference, you see, between living apart from and living alone. The isolationist lives ALONE. As far as diseases go, it is dangerous and deadly. Then too, in the church this applies in two directions: one can make too great a distance between himself and the world, then he is called a hermit; one can make too great a distance between himself and the church-world, what he would be called I know not. A denomination, that is a communion of churches may also find themselves dying of this disease. People who speak the following are surely afflicted: “If only I could have been born in a Prot. Ref. hospital, reared in such a home, received additional instruction in such a school, roamed such a neighborhood; then later find a job in a Prot. Ref. factory, purchase my necessities in such a store.” Well we better stop here! But you have caught the point I think: our sights and interests may never be colonization. As a denomination we may never be a little colony away from the world, and by all means not away from the church world.
The above quotation may be the extreme case, but honestly it doesn’t have to be that bad. For example, if any given church has no impact on the world about her, she then already has withdrawn herself to such an extent that she is nothing less than a useless colony which might as well inhabit clefts and caves. And, if any given church no longer bears influence upon the existing church-world (Christendom), nor leaves an impression upon her, the very same accusation is in place: a useless colony. Salt needs its savor! Stars shine!
Have we any impact and influence? Is our light shining? No, I don’t mean among ourselves, I mean out among others! I mean in the world and in Christendom! If not, then woe, woe and woe. And the last one has not yet been spoken.
To my mind of all the causes that bring on this disease two are outstanding. The first is an unchristian conversation, walk. Where is our impact if we do not behave ourselves? The second is a lazy mission program. Where is our impression if we put forth no constructive efforts?
I like to be positive in pointing out a program which will certainly avoid, if not squelch, any isolationistic tendencies.
First of all, and then most important, as young people of our churches be a living example to others. Yes, you meet other Christian young people don’t you? How do you deport yourselves? As follows:
(1) as a stranger: cold, calloused and conceited;
(2) as a Pharisee: self-righteous, sophisticated and sour? If so it were far better that a millstone be hanged about our necks. How different! My Bible tells me: the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. These are the earmarks that young people must display to others: they leave a lasting impression. Have an impact too! Such display may improve your reputation too . . . will certainly change your name: from Pharisee to publican. Some will hate, then again others will praise and admire you; but at least you have come out of your colonial closet.
Secondly, as young people of our churches you should be vitally interested in missions! There are many aspects to this subject to be sure, and to be mission minded and therein active in the right sense demands much knowledge, not even to mention the tedious labors involved. I assume you are aware of the basic principles. If so, you realize, I am sure, that you too can do things. Preaching the Word of God is out of the question, it is the task of the ordained minister. However, there are countless other things for you to do. Chief of all is prayer. It may sound silly but this is the essential and primary tool. James said, “the fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man availed much.” How true also in missions. Then too we should not belittle that implement called interest. Please prove your interest: discuss the subject of missions in your societies and social, ask your parents about their interest therein . . . Put them on the spot by asking them what they are doing about it, questions your minister on the matter.
Recently the author of “Missions in Our Prot. Ref. Churches,” an article appearing in the March issue of Beacon Lights, appraised the past and present mission activities of our churches. He both defended the fact that after all we do have an interest in missions and admitted that perhaps we could do more. I heartily agree with his light criticism, but hardly agree with his praise. It is not my intention to criticize his essay but in the future we will devote some articles on this subject presenting which we consider to be “other opinions” on this score.
Nothing can alter the fact that there are things for young people to do when it comes to beaming the light. Prayer and lively interest are not enough. There are more painful callings. No mission program worthy of the name was ever launched without physical labor. Neither has a mission movement ever survived without material support, call it cold cash. It must be there. More means will bring more men to the fields, bring more time on radio stations, bring more subscriptions to our ecclesiastical magazines. You can help!
We do not believe in isolationism. Let’s work and so have an impact on all about us. This is our calling even as young people! There will be fruit. God is calling us, He will abundantly bless.