This was interesting. CNN did a report on Christians living “off the grid” to various extents. The report, Unplugged Christians living off the grid, profiled a few fairly extreme examples of Christians who are seeking to remove themselves from the world. The people profiled practice a lot of what you would expect: homeschooling, self-sufficiency, house church, eschewing worldliness. Lots of anti-government rhetoric, more aimed at the welfare state than the apocalyptic “one world government” types. There was some kookiness like the guy who legally changed his name to “Pro-Life”. That is kind of odd.
I will admit that I have a great deal of sympathy for some aspects of this movement. It is hard to not look around in disgust at the way things are going and seek to withdraw completely. The world has taken up comfortable residence in the church and most Christians (myself included) are far more worldly than is healthy. Having said that, many Christians have lived in various times and places that were far worse as far as immorality and government oppression goes (does the name Nero ring a bell?) with an effective witness, so withdrawal is not the only option.
My biggest concern is that in withdrawing from the world, it becomes pretty hard to be a witness to the world. There is a delicate balance. It is easy to become overly worldly and in doing so you start to look and act like the world to such an extent that your witness is lost. I think that is the more applicable danger for the church today. On the other hand, you can be so withdrawn from the world that you likewise cease to be a witness. We are called to be salt and light in the world but also to be distinct from the world. Balancing that can be hard and frankly I understand the urge to withdraw completely with "better safe than sorry" as your motto.
It seems that the proper balance is to seek to live peaceably in a world that is lost and opposed to the Gospel, even though that means discomfort, persecution and even death. Christians live for this time among the weeds of the world as explained in the parable of the wheat and tares. There are going to be unbelievers all around us and that is to be expected. Our role is to witness to the lost through the Gospel proclaimed in Word and lived out in Christian community. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be living distinctly different lives, that we shouldn’t seek to carve out the worldliness and live more simply in our homes and in the church. I think there is much to commend in a lifestyle that looks intentionally different than the rest of the world and I think you can accomplish that without completely withdrawing from the world that we are called to evangelize.
What do you think? To what extent, if any, should Christians withdraw ourselves from the world?