There was a day when it was sincerely believe that, to be holy, men had to separate themselves from the sinful environment about them and seek the shelter and protection of a monastery. We are not in danger of making this mistake today. We understand that Jesus sent His disciples forth to make disciples of all nations. We recall that He said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). Withdrawal from human society does not fit the temper of our modern day.
But we are in danger of a new kind of monasticism. We attend our churches, we sing our hymns, we give our witness – but all behind the sheltered walls of our church. We live to ourselves. We shun the sinful and the questionable places of amusement, and all this is commendable. But the tragedy is that too many Christian people have shut themselves away from a sin-sick world that desperately needs their personal touch.
There may be many reasons why Christians have chosen this modern monasticism. Perhaps it springs from an inward sense of fear and uncertainty. In some cases, it could be the result of inferiority complexes regarding ourselves or our churches. But the sad thing is that sometimes it indicates that our religious experiences has become a self-centered matter with no throbbing, outgoing love for others. Apathy and complacency always rob God’s people of spiritual concern for others.
Very definitely, Jesus wants us to be in the world. Just as definitely, He was us to be free from its contamination and its sin. In one of His last messages to His disciples, He said, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21).
He became involved with sinners and their needs. So must we. He touched the lives of the sad, the needy, and the suffering. So must we. He mingled with the broken-hearted, the perplexed, and the ones who had gone astray. So must we.
It’s wonderful to attend the house of God, but it’s also wonderful to visit the house of a neighbour or friend where there is spiritual need. It’s wonderful to sing hymns of worship and praise. But it’s also wonderful to carry a song in the markets of trade. It’s wonderful to witness to God’s saving power among those who recognize the language of Canaan. But it also wonderful to carry the good news by word and life to those who are not yet in the fold of Christ.