The Barrier of Isolation


Knowing Christ (edification) should always be coupled with making Him known (evangelism).

There is no impact without contact. Unfortunately, some believers have espoused the mentality that they must stay aloof from relationships with outsiders. Fearing that their thinking and behavior would be polluted by such contacts, these people have confused the biblical teaching about separation with an unbiblical practice of isolation. Distinctiveness is not the same as dissociation, and Scripture does not teach us to isolate ourselves from outsiders. Instead, it tells us to dissociate from Christians who are bringing reproach on the testimony of Christ by their immoral behavior. “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

Indeed, we should not participate with anyone in the practice of evil or impurity (2 Corinthians 6:14-18), but it is clearly possible to have extensive areas of common ground without compromise in our relationships with unbelievers (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). We are not to be friends with the world system (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17), but we should follow Jesus in being friends with the people of the world (Matthew 11:19). Like our Lord, we should love sinners, but hate sin; too often people love sin and hate sinners. Our mission is not to get them to clean up their acts, but to lead them to the One who can change them from the inside out.

Another cause of isolation is the “holy huddle” or the sit, soak, and sour syndrome. The Sea of Galilee teems with life because water flows in and out of it. The Dead Sea, on the other hand, is aptly named, since the water flowing into it has no outlet. Edification and koinonia are important to the spiritual health and nurture of believers, but the inflow of teaching and fellowship (Acts 2:42) should be balanced by the outflow of outreach into the community (Acts 2:47). Knowing Christ (edification) should always be coupled with making Him known (evangelism).

Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth


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