In church terminology “the world” is a term encompassing the people and evil influences of society apart from the church. Christians are routinely called upon to segregate themselves from the “world” and to vigorously oppose the actions, tendencies, and inhabitants of this “world”. These mandates are supposedly drawn from the Bible, the same scriptures that require Christians to go out and convert the people comprising this “world”. Is there any wonder that the church is so confused? They are under instruction to separate from the world and oppose the world, while converting the world. How can I evangelize the same people I am required to shun and oppose? Am I a persuader, an isolationist, or a warrior?
It is so much easier to stigmatize, criticize, and shun those in the “world” than it is to persuade them to embrace a confused and unappealing church message. Consequently the contradiction between opposing “lost people” and converting “lost people” almost always comes down in favor of opposition. This preference for battle over service is the hallmark of much that calls itself “Christian”.
While this predilection for fighting over persuading is perhaps understandable, the effect both on the church and “world” is nothing but sad. On the one hand, the church propagates self righteousness and paranoia while on the other the “unchurched” absorb a completely unattractive picture of God.
Some have termed this church penchant for opposition as “againstism”. Under this paradigm I am known for what I am against, and the louder and more strident my opposition voice the better Christian I am.
A very wise man has said that the only way to truly overcome your enemy is to make him a friend (convert him). Sounds like something Jesus could have said. Some might counter that Jesus was against some things. That’s true and foremost on that list would be purveyors of self righteousness who make loud noise and a great show of their piety. “Againstism” seems to me to be the very thing Jesus was against.