FROM PASTOR TIM JOHNSON:
Thank you for all the great feedback from Sunday’s message on the Rechabites from Jeremiah 35. I think I’ve ready through Jeremiah 2-3 dozen times at least over my life and never really stopped to reflect on who they were.
Like the Amish of today, they separated themselves from the regular culture of the Jews and remained faithful to their distinctive expression of Jewish faith for over 250 and were therefore honored by God.
Bear in mind that God never commended their way of life, per se. He commended their steadfast fidelity to their ancestral ways and shamed those Jews who could not follow the Living God.
Today’s Amish can function in a similar way for us; examples of how core beliefs and traditions are preserved even in contexts where their expression of Christianity is divorced from the culture around them. And, in many ways, their faith is often anything but biblically vibrant and evangelical.
Still, as birthrates plummet around the country, and the world, the Amish continue to honor God’s call “to be fruitful and multiply” defying the cultural trends to have fewer and fewer children. And while many adolescents stay in their church because they know no other way, or, would be shunned in many cases were they to leave, the Amish commitment is laudable.
We are not called to be Amish, per se, because we are called to engage the culture so that we share the Gospel in word and in action; just like Jesus did. The Monastics of the ancient world, and today, also separate themselves from the culture, but that too fails to advance the Gospel in ways similar to Jesus.
Having said that, who can doubt that some meaningful and intentional separation from the culture would be harmful for Christians? Jesus separated Himself as well. We need to combat the ubiquitous press of culture by separating ourselves through Bible reading, prayer, communion with other Christians, etc.
One saint told me about a cabin in northern Minnesota that people are encouraged to rent out for a 40-day retreat where there is no electricity and people are encouraged to leave “the world” behind. That’s a long time, but maybe we all need to consider pursuing something for even just a few days that allows us to be solely in the presence of God.
Brief separations can invigorate us to do the work we are called to do in this world even as work tirelessly and intentionally to avoid being of this world.
Joining you in the fight!
Rescued by Christ,