Christians in the World
In this episode of Christian Mythbusters, Father Jared tries to break some of the myths that Christianity is all about escape from the world. You can hear Christian Mythbusters in the Grand Haven area on 92.1 WGHN, on Wednesdays at 10:30am and Sundays at 8:50am. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple here.
The transcript of the episode is below, or you can listen to the audio at the bottom of the post.
This is Father Jared Cramer from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan, here with today’s edition of Christian Mythbusters, a regular segment I offer to counter some common misconceptions about the Christian faith.
In my family, my wife and I have two very different approaches to vacation. I like to imagine all kinds of possibilities, spending endless amounts of time scrolling through a wide variety of possibilities. Her approach to vacation is not to imagine manifold possibilities but to make a clear, concrete, and eminently practical plan. What are we doing? Where are we going? Can we afford it… and will the bathroom be nice?
Like some of you, I would imagine, my own googling of vacation ideas has started to increase once more, I will admit. With the lifting of mask mandates for vaccinated people, the possibility of a vaccine for children, and with more airline miles saved in our Delta account than I have ever seen, following a year and a half of pandemic shut-down, I’m definitely ready for a trip of some sorts, something more than going to Meijer and coming home to report how many unmasked people I saw this time.
And this talk of vacation and getting away makes me think of how escape from the world has been a persistent temptation in Christianity, with groups wanting to turn in on themselves and just be left alone. So, this week, I thought I’d try to break the myth that Christianity is about escaping the world.
In the Gospel reading appointed in the lectionary last Sunday, Jesus responded to our own desire to escape from the world. He prayed in John 17 for his disciples (and us), asking God to protect them precisely because Jesus is sending them into the world. Jesus sends us into the world.
And the reason we are sent into the world is because we are meant to be Christ for this world today. And this should actually bring us joy.
You see, we are not sent into the world as some kind of subversive agent to beat up on all the bad people we don’t like. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like that job sometimes. But that’s not actually the job Jesus gives us. . We are sent into the world to be people of mercy, kindness, faithfulness, and justice. And when we do that, we will find joy. When we live as Jesus says he would like us to live, then the joy of Christ will be made complete in us.
I know you want a break. Lord knows I want a break. And a break is a good thing. But after times of rest and recreation, we need to return to our calling and vocation in the world.
And after the separation and distance of this past year and a half of pandemic, as a church we need to return to our calling and vocation in this world and all the ways were unable to do it before. In my parish, just like most churches, we kept ourselves together during this pandemic. We connected in challenging times, grieving, laughing, and working together using virtual means.
But there is more we need to do. The church needs to be embodied once more.