Saturday, February 03, 2007

How does one escape the world?

It’s hard to become engaged in politics and not become part of the world. It’s pretty hard to follow the dictates of fashion and not be a part of the world. It’s even harder to keep up with the Joneses and not be part of the world. And it’s pretty hard to keep the holidays of the world without becoming enmeshed in worldly things.

In the democratic West it is an implied part of good citizenship to vote and to volunteer on committees, for school and all of the other places where civil government is formed. Yet, if one is to come out of the world, one gives up allegiances to all and becomes devoted to the kingdom of God.

If you are not at the mercy of the latest fashion whim, one will dress modestly, not adorning oneself with jewels and costly array. One will begin looking like a plain dresser who is not one step behind the fashion police but lives separated from the dictates of fashion. Clothing now serves a functional place of both identifying gender as well as covering the body, keeping it warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

If one is not concerned with what the neighbors have or the car they drive or the toys they possess, then one becomes truly independent and liberated from bondage to the expectations of society. Why does a person need a half-acre of mown grass for a front yard and the riding mower required for its maintenance—why not a half acre of blueberries or whatever the property owner desires? The dictates of fashion and cultural expectations restricts the freedoms of a person and changes liberty into servitude.

Why celebrate the holidays of this world if one wants to come out of the world? Why succumb to the shopping madness that causes half of all retail sales to occur in the weeks before Christmas? Why do one's major shopping on the Sabbath--if a person really wants to come out of the world, why not keep the Sabbath? But that might be asking too much of even those who profess to desire to come out of the world. If a person wants to truly come out of the world a person will give up all of those things that originate in implied and unstated social obligations made to the prince of this world.

Yet to be a witness and a light to neighbors, near and far, adherence to certain social conventions are necessary. A person cannot reek of BO and produce any favorable impression. A person cannot look as if she were a troll living under the nearest bridge and be a positive witness for Christ. So escaping isn’t possible—all that remains possible is exercising control over the freedom extended by being called out of the world. Exercising this freedom comes with the price of being a reliable witness for Christ who lived as an Observant Jew. Freedom from bondage to disobedience does not mean freedom from the law. Too many who desire to leave the world keep one foot in it by maintaining the shackles of disobedience.

By faith I keep the laws of God to the best of my ability. I keep the Sabbaths of God and the principles of clean and unclean meats to the best of my ability. I try to keep in the forefront of my mind “But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God (Rom 2:29)." My modest dress is moving towards plain as plain dressers’ obedience should begin to encompass obedience to all of the laws of God, not just nine of them.

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