A Call to Detoxification

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.

1 comment

  1. Detox — what a great analogy! I especially like how it implies something that seems often overlooked (by believers and unbelievers alike): that there is a process that occurs after conversion, a process of purification that is both necessary and yet as voluntary as conversion itself.

    How many of us are saved, and yet remain ignorant of the toxins that we’re continuing to “ingest” — anger, impatience, worry, unforgiveness, selfishness? How many Christians substitute going to church for true transformation? It’s like checking yourself into the detox facility for Sunday, and then returning to your usual habits the rest of the week.

    The other thing that can be sneaky about our detox needs is this: if our “doctors” (pastors) aren’t giving us the right information (the Word of God, as guided by the Holy Spirit for a specific time and place), then we won’t know which substances (words, activities, relationships, attitudes) are harmful to us.

    So we can be attending church and not making much headway in the detoxification process if we’re not being fed the Word we need. Lately the words of Jesus to Peter have been echoing in my ears… “If you love Me, feed My sheep.”

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