MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

I Have To Experience It In Order to Know It

October 25th, 2007 Visited 1441 times, 1 so far today

He who rocks hardest 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.

Comments

8 Comments

RSS
  • Arthur says on: October 26, 2007 at 12:08 am

     

    MInTheGap Writes:
    “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.”

    Jesus Says:
    “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.'” Matt 15:11.

    We are not products of what we take in, but we are products of the Spirit dwelling within us.

    MInTheGap Writes:
    “And furthermore, God says that we’re supposed to be spending time thinking on things that exalt God.”

    So why do you find it so hard to focus on God when you are listening to someone telling you about their pain, their sin, their viewpoint? That’s what the music is doing. If you want to witness to someone you have to listen to and understand their point of view. I’m not saying you have to experience it, I’m saying you have to see it and understand it. There’s a difference between experiencing a thing and hearing about a thing, or seeing a thing.

    In fact, upon reviewing my post, I never even used the word ‘experience’ so one would be hard pressed to draw ‘experience it to know it’ from my post.

    MInTheGap Writes:
    “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.”

    Neither do I speak of a baptism in the world.

    The point of my post is that there’s a difference between what goes in your ears and what goes in your heart. Unless you have an unregenerate heart.

    MInTheGap Writes:
    “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.)”

    Again, please note that none of this is in my post. Neither does my suggestion follow a likewise string of logic. If you follow my logic it would be more like:

    I have spent time in the presence of drug users while they were using drugs. (not that I necessarily went out of my way to see someone use drugs, but I didn’t go out of my way to avoid it) Through my contact with drug users I’ve gained insight into the root causes of their addictions as well as some of the tell tale signs to look out for in the future incase someone close to me is trying to hide a drug problem.

    I have been witnessing to a prostitute lately and I even spent some time in her brothel. I saw men coming and going and even got a chance to speak with some. I learned much about the reasons why they visit prostitutes.

    I listened to GreenDay’s new album yesturday. Billy Joe seems to have a lot of pain and struggles in his life. I think I’ll pray for him.

    I was talking to Mary yesturday and she told me all about all the fun she had at a porn shoot last weekend. I know that’s not right, so I pried a bit and learned that she was raped when she was a child and she told me about how she changed her perspective on sex through that experience. It was the perfect opportunity to explain to her the love of Christ and the perfect love of the Father in heaven who does not hurt His children as her worldly father did.

    I don’t call people to a ‘higher standard.’ I call them to Christ. And he set the bar low enough for the whole world get over it. Simply trust in Him.

    What you said about drugs indicates that you don’t really understand what it is like for those who abuse them. People who use drugs do so because of an internal sin nature which can take myriad forms, but basically it’s painful. People use drugs to mask the pain, to hide from the pain, to ignore the pain, to cover the pain… to do anything but face the pain. … But if you never really get to know a drug addict you’ll never know that.

  • MInTheGap says on: October 26, 2007 at 8:58 am

     

    Jesus Says:
    “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’” Matt 15:11.

    We are not products of what we take in, but we are products of the Spirit dwelling within us.

    Your being is effected by what you take in– whether through listening to it, seeing it, touching it, etc. We may have the Spirit indwelling, but we still have a sin nature (Paul said that the good things that he would do he did not and the things that he did not want to do he did). The Bible also says in Psalm 1 that the man of God is blessed when he is separate from the ungodly.

    Now, this is not to say that we should not witness to them, that we should not reach out to them, etc. But if we’re spending so much time cultivating relationships with sinners that are not being saved, if they are the primary location for our friendships, then they will have an affect on us and will corrupt us. We need to be firmly grounded in the Word and filling our minds with truth, etc (from the verse in the post).

    Listening and absorbing music of the world internalizes what the song is saying, and although it may cause one to weep for the lost, or to be able to better sympathize with them, I would argue that people that would use your sort of logic would not be listening to it once for understanding, but would be listening to it all the time and enjoying it.

    I could go with you on the first, I could not on the second. I should not be being entertained by the music of the world– which was entirely my point in the post you referenced.

    So why do you find it so hard to focus on God when you are listening to someone telling you about their pain, their sin, their viewpoint? That’s what the music is doing. If you want to witness to someone you have to listen to and understand their point of view. I’m not saying you have to experience it, I’m saying you have to see it and understand it. There’s a difference between experiencing a thing and hearing about a thing, or seeing a thing.

    Why do I have to listen to their music in order to understand their point of view? Why can’t I talk with them? I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t understand why it’s necessary.

    The point of my post is that there’s a difference between what goes in your ears and what goes in your heart. Unless you have an unregenerate heart.

    Well, you cover it both ways– you say that if you can listen to it without taking it in, then you should listen to it, which (to me) admits that some will take it in. And I say, that if you’re listening to it on a long term basis you will affect your behavior. We may have the Spirit inside us, but we can quench that Spirit. We may have the Spirit inside us, but we can still sin. We are a product of what we think and do– and if we’re constantly thinking about the music that we heard (if it has a catchy tune, if it has a good rhythm…) then we will begin to be molded by that.

    This is exactly why we’re instructed to meditate on those things that are lovely, pure, truthful, etc. That’s why David said that the godly man meditated on the law of the Lord day and night.

    My issue is time– how much time is spent listening to ungodly music. If it’s where I’m being entertained, then it’s wrong. If I’m just listening to it once to learn, I don’t really have as much of a problem with that.

    As for the experiential, I don’t have a problem helping people at soup kitchens, working with those in rehab, and helping those with addictions as a way to witness and to help those in need. Those are perfectly fine things.

    I would draw the line at entering a brothel because of my Christian testimony. I never see Christ entering a brothel. I never see him visiting a heathen temple– Him or any of the apostles. Those people that you talked with in the brothel may know difference between you or any other “customer”, especially in a land where youth pastors are being caught on popular television programs as predators.

    I have no problem trying to get in touch with these people, and if someone could come up with a ministry to these people and those that are on the street, I would think it would actually be effective– but if a guy started picking up street walkers they’d either be picked up by cops for soliciting prostitution, or they would be looked at by those in the area as one who did.

    It’s sticky– trying to reach out to those that need the gospel most without compromising my testimony– but it’s something that needs to be done.

  • MamaArcher says on: October 26, 2007 at 11:36 am

     

    I guess a good question to ask here would be….
    If you are doing things and going places and inserting yourself so deeply in the world, how different does one look? We are to be peculair, holy and set apart. So where does one draw the line? Maybe it comes down to one’s interpretation of being in the world and not of it.
    I would even venture to say that someone who thinks they can dabble in the world and come out “untouched” is going to wake up one day and wonder how they ended up so far from the truth. In my husband’s ministry (pastor, reverend, chaplain, counselor) we have witnessed this over and over again.

    We do not have to become so intimately aquainted with individual sins to be able to share the truth of the gospel.

  • Larry Eiss says on: October 26, 2007 at 11:51 am

     

    The comment above includes: “I would draw the line at entering a brothel because of my Christian testimony. I never see Christ entering a brothel. I never see him visiting a heathen temple– Him or any of the apostles.”

    I’d point out the following:
    Acts 17:22-23 reads, “22Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” (KJV)

    Matthew 9:10-13 reads, “10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (KJV)

    Matthew 11:19 reads, “19The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” (KJV)

    Luke 15:2 reads, “And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” (KJV)

    My ONLY point is that the Lord Jesus Christ did in fact associate with such people, and did so to the point of condemnation by the religious leaders of the day. And the Apostle Paul did in fact visit a heathen temple.

  • MInTheGap says on: October 26, 2007 at 1:47 pm

     

    I think MamaArcher makes a great point– you are affected by that which you associate yourself. It’s the same thing with people that think that they can flirt with poronography or other kinds of sins of the flesh. What you’ll find is that at the very moment that you think you are strong you can fall.

    As to Jesus– he went into people’s homes. I never said that we should not go into people’s homes, although 1 John 1:10-11 advise the believer not to allow someone in their house that teaches a false doctrine. Yes, Jesus did accept invitations into the houses of sinners (those that were seen as inferior by the religious leaders of the time). However, He is never recorded going into one of their houses of ill repute. He got the reputation for partaking with sinners, but this was only a sin the pharisees eyes– since to them it was a sin to eat with those that were publicans.

    As to Paul, he did not go into a heathen temple– the passage nowhere says that. I believe that if you take a look at the culture of the day, the city of Athens had pagan gods on every street corner. So, Paul wandered around the city, saw the inscriptions below these gods that were on the street corner, and found the one that referred to the unknown god.

  • Larry Eiss says on: October 26, 2007 at 2:15 pm

     

    The religious people of Jesus’ day accused Him of being a glutton and a drunkard. That’s a pretty close association. It makes no difference whether He was associating with prostitutes or murderers, or liars and cheats. Sins do not come in sizes.

    I don’t think Arthur’s point is that believers should be doing all the things the people of the world do. I think he’s trying to say that if we are not IN the world, we can’t help the world.

    Personally, I no longer listen to secular music. This is what I think I should do because I know that music and its lyrics roll around in my head all the time, and I want praise for Him to be in there rather than words about someone’s lost relationship, etc.

    But it is crucial to understand that this is not a rule that must be obeyed to secure one’s salvation or even to ensure that one remains in good standing with God the Father. Scripture tells us that He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

    We need to be concerned about knowing Him better and about who we are in Him, rather than what we do or how finely we split behavioral hairs. When all our attention is on Him, the other stuff falls into place. That’s the message to preach. That is good news indeed.

  • Jess @ Making Home says on: October 27, 2007 at 2:43 am

     

    Right on.

    When I was in high school, I fell into the wrong crowd and for two years of my life, walked openly in sin and rebellion.

    After I finally yielded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I decided that part of what had led me down that path was curiosity of what it would be like… and the belief that you had to try something in order to know.

    What I learned was that the Word of God had already told me, truthfully, what that path would feel and be like. I just didn’t listen. And everything I learned lined up exactly with the way sin is described in the Bible.

    So, since that time, not that I’ve attained perfection on this, but I have *tried* not to buy into the lie that I have to try something in order to know what it’s like. I can look to the Word and find myself truthfully informed on lifestyles of sin and worldly thinking.

    All that to say, I agree with your debunking of this philosophy of men. Great post.

    Jess

  • MInTheGap says on: October 27, 2007 at 8:57 pm

     

    Jess, thanks– there really is good reason to be careful in what we expose ourselves to.

    Larry, those charges would have been easily dismissed by the general populace. I mean, all Christians are going to get slandered, even more so the perfect Person. The question is was He blameless. The answer to that is yes. He wasn’t a glutton or a drunkard (two things that were charges laid on Him not because he went into bars), and these were the biggest charges they could think to bring Him up on.

    However, how many people are going to believe that I never drink if I’m going to the bar regularly? How many people are going to believe that I’m unaffected by the half naked women in a brothel if I’m there every week? And am I really untainted?

    I’ve thought long and hard about the effect of pornography, of worldly music, and other sins and getting close to the line. The problem is that when we do this we think that we’re unaffected, but we’ve really been dulled to the reality of what’s going on.

    So, yes, it’s not critical to salvation that we abstain from the appearance of evil (even though that’s a scriptural command). Yes, we should be focusing on knowing God better and knowing the truth rather than concentrating on error. Yes, we need to reach the lost and part of that is meeting them where they are and meeting their need. I’m just saying that we can do all of this and hold a high and holy standard that exalts God and brings Him glory.

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

%d bloggers like this: