In discussing the concept that evangelism is an invitation for Christians to be different from the people in the world surrounding us, Bishop Will Willimon said:
Evangelism calls people, not to agreement, but to conversion, detoxification, the adoption of practices meant to save them from the deceits of the “modern world.”
Clearly, his use of detoxification stuck with me. I think that’s a great way to look at it—we can overdose on all the crappy, sinful pleasures of the world, both the physical ones and the psychological ones [pursuits of power and money for their own sake, for one]. In fact, this world is toxic to the very nature of holiness, because we’re surrounded by decay.
I am suddenly reminded of the farcical exchange from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
Large Man with Dead Body: Who’s that then?
The Dead Collector: I dunno, must be a king.
Large Man with Dead Body: Why?
The Dead Collector: He hasn’t got shit all over him.
Jesus is really the only king to have come through this world—because He stayed wholly pure and didn’t get shit all over him.
My friend Josh Bobbitt was writing the other day on Christians and the Church not reaching out to the growing Hispanic population in this country. Josh argued that we should be learning Spanish so as to converse with these folks in their native tongue—and while I agree with him, I think that he’s asking American Christians to be antithetical to American values. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case [or in many others]. We need to be antithetical in these situations so that we can be detoxified and cling more closely to Christ’s values than to America’s values.
Oh Lord, detoxify me. Make me pure. I need to be clear-headed so that I am ready for Your return.