SEPARATION, part one

separation.gifIt completely unsettled my world.  I was a teenager, living with my missionary parents in Portobello, a suburb of Edinburgh, Scotland.  I loved the ministry.  Even as an adolescent, I really had a desire to be involved with my parents in the establishing of a local church in that very spiritually cold nation.  Practically speaking, I was part of a two-man team that led youth activities in our church.  The other man was a 20-something-year-old named John.  In many ways, John seemed older–much older–than he actually was; however, looking back, in other ways he was dreadfully immature.  Despite (or maybe because of) his immaturity, he was my best friend.  We travelled together across the country–always by train.  We held youth activities in local parks and took outings to castles and other interesting venues.  We led other kids to the Lord.  We were a TEAM…

…until one fateful evening.  John had asked to speak privately with my father.  It turns out that John had become a hyper-Calvinist and could no longer support the teaching of our church, which was opposed to Calvinism.  I didn’t understand the theological issues regarding Calvinism at the time.  (I still don’t completely!)  One thing I knew: our friendship was about to be terminated.  When I heard the results of the meeting, I ran into my room and sobbed.  His friendship meant the world to me.  I grabbed a piece of paper and my Bible and wrote out every verse I could find that said “whosoever will.”  I was angry at him for deserting me, especially over something spiritual in nature.  Our church had to discipline him out of our membership.  It was the right thing to do, not only because of his new theological views, but also because of the divisive spirit and gossiping that had ensued.

What is separation?  Why do we “do” it?  What are the biblical foundations for such a practice?  What about the “degrees” or “levels” of separation idea?   Any discussion of separation within the Christian fundamentalist world is likely to be controversial.  I recognize that.  However, the intent of this series is to plead with leaders of Bible-believing churches to practice separation both consistently and caringly. 

The importance of consistency, I think, goes without saying; yet, so many churches do not regularly and faithfully deal with sin in a biblical manner, especially sins of the spirit.  These churches have so much unresolved sin within their midst that they soon lose all distinction with the outside world, despite their dress and music and liturgy. 

I know all too well the internal pain that comes with separation.  The hurt is real and really deep.  Your heart aches for restoration.  You would go to any legitimate length to achieve it.  Instead of gossipping about their sin, you bathe your brother in prayer and fasting.  You rejoice in the renewed purity of the Church following separation while searching day and night for the lost sheep.  It totally mystifies me how some people claim “separation” with such a cavalier and callous spirit, especially toward those whom they have never even met or shared Christian fellowship.

Exercised properly, biblical separation is one of the best modern-day examples of the compatibility of holiness and love.  It is holy because it does not overlook but rather deals with sin.  It is loving because it shows the true brotherhood of the Christian family: we go to extraordinary lengths to rescue and treat those with the self-inflicted wounds of sin.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Good article Brian. It sure brings back many memories. I’m pleased that the Lord was able to use those experiences to help mold some of your present-day character. Keep up the good writing.

    Dad

    Reply

  2. Good article, I believe that if we truly had the mind of Christ, it would go a long way in separation. Now if you are speaking of Ecclesiastical separation, I am 100% for separation for the glory of God, by the grace of God, and with the purpose of exalting Christ. I think that the biggest danger in separation is separating for the sake of separating. Instead we must thoughtfully, graciously, and humbly separate so that God is exalted. It pains me to see churches that have on their signs or advertisement in some way the word “separated.” What a horrible testimony of God’s gracious “tabernacleing with us.”

    Reply

  3. This should be interesting. If fundamentalism is lacking anything, it is another article or series on separation.

    We need to constantly be reminded of the hows and whys of separation. Too little attention is given to separation nowadays. It is a shame really that the younger fundies have questioned what the seasoned and correct fundies have been telling them to believe. We need to do more to stop the questioning.

    Reply

  4. This is a great post. I have only recently discovered this blog and am very happy with what I have been reading. God bless you.

    Reply

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