The concept of a bomb shelter is a very simple thing. There is the threat of attack from an enemy who is going to use nukes (or other kinds of bombs) on you. When a warning siren sounds, you proceed in an orderly fashion to a place that has been set apart, specially constructed and equipped to protect you from the bombs your enemy wants to drop on you. If you aren’t equipped with any special kind of protective equipment (such as armor) then bomb shelters are a great thing. They are a place to retreat for safety. The obvious and underlying truth in this situation is that there is fear driving you into the bomb shelter. Fear isn’t a bad thing all by itself. Fear has it’s place, it’s role. But it also often creeps its way into areas in which it does not belong.
While this isn’t anything new or ground breaking, it still needs to be pointed out and addressed every now and again. For far too many, the church of Jesus Christ has become a cultural bomb shelter. It has become a place to retreat from the world out of fear. Sometimes that fear is subtle. Sometimes it is overt. In an effort to obey the Bible’s command to not love the world or the things of the world (see 1 John 2:15-17) the church has retreated unto itself in such a way that we are actually disobeying the command to go and make disciples and teaching them to observe all the things Jesus commanded (see Matthew 28:19+). Why? Out of fear.
It’s true that there is much in the world that is geared and bent on doing the disciple of Jesus harm. But isn’t that why Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6:10+? Think of the armor of God as the gear a firefighter wears when going into a burning building. The act of going into a burning building sounds crazy. (I know, I’ve done it.) But when their are lives at stake it has to be done. The gear is designed to protect the firefighter so that they can go into the structure, save lives, and come out in one piece. That is exactly what Jesus has called us to do, and the Spirit equips us to do; to go into the burning structure that is our world, our culture, save lives, and bring them out to safety. Not only that, but train and equip them to go back into the fire to save more lives.
Paul rebukes the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 5 because he told them to avoid contact with people who claim to be Christians, yet continue to practice a lifestyle that is contrary to God’s word. Why did he rebuke them? Because they actually did the opposite. They maintained relationship with those in the church who were doing such, and cut themselves off from those outside the church. He essentially asks them, “How are you supposed to make a difference in their lives with the gospel of Jesus if you cut yourselves off from the very people who need it the most?” Sadly, this is what many churches and believers have done by retreating into their cultural bomb shelters. We may not be dealing with sexual immorality like they were, but equally ugly things like pride, self righteousness, and various forms of idolatry.
Church, stop hiding. Come out of the bomb shelter. Be the light that is out in the open, up on the hill. Don’t hide under the basket. Put on your armor and engage the world. Follow Jesus’ example of eating with sinners with the intention of transforming their lives with the good new of new life in Jesus Christ. Yes, the sirens are sounding, but our battle is not with flesh and blood, but with the spiritual powers behind the scenes. The flesh and blood with which we are not at war are prisoners, they are slaves of sin and they need to be set free. God has set us apart for that very task. And we can’t do it hiding in our shelters. We are on a search and rescue mission.
Go get ’em!