“Live wisely among those who are not believers.” This tiny little command is nestled quietly in Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, but it comes with a powerful teaching.
You know, one of hang-ups with my monastery experience was that this sort of thing was missing. (If you are a new reader I spent a week at a monastery at the end of March. You can dig through old posts to read about it.) The scripture says that we are to live among those people who do not know Christ.
Even though I’m not living monastically, am I really living among them? Or do I judge them? Do I shelter myself from their problems and the mess that comes with a life outside of Christ? I think sometimes I do.
“Live wisely among those who are not believers.” What if, instead of avoiding other people’s mess, we climbed down in it and really lived among them? What about your unmarried neighbor who has three children by three different fathers? Her life is a mess. What if you invited her over for play day with your children, had her over for dinner, or offered free babysitting? Does the idea excited you or does it cause your skin to crawl with discomfort?
What about the old recluse the lives next door? Whenever you see him he shoots dirty looks at you. If he does talk it’s to complain that you mowed too close to his line or your leaves are blowing in his yard. But what if, instead of withdrawing from him in return, you lived “among” him? What would happen if you baked him cookies or invited HIM for dinner? I bet beneath that rough exterior is a broken heart that God may use you to heal.
Sometimes stepping outside your comfort zone is terrifying. Your head may be spinning and your mind filled with questions. “Where do I start? Who should go to? What do I even say?”
Well, funny thing is right before this instruction, Paul also said, “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message…” Start by praying for God to open the door for you. He will show you who to live among. He will show how. He will give you the words when you ask.
Now GO and “live wisely among those who are not believers.”