Separation vs Isolation
by JohnBagwell
 Faith & Family
Sep 06, 2011 | 2808 views |  0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

yellow gumballsSuppose I gave you a jar of yellow gumballs with this simple instruction: you are to separate one gumball from the rest without isolating it from the others.  Could you do it?  As soon as you take one gumball out of the bunch, it is separated, but now it is also isolated.  As soon as you put it back in, it once again becomes neither separated or isolated.

Can something or someone be separated without being isolated?  It is a question worth asking because it drives at the core of the meaning of holiness.  As Christians are we to be a holy, separated people, or are we to be a holy, isolated people?

How you look at your Christian life through either of these two possibilities will determine how you relate to the world around you.  From two different pastors I heard the following two statements: “Church is not for the saved, it is for the lost to come and hear the Gospel” and “Church is not for the lost, it is for the saved to come and learn how to live a life pleasing to God.”  As I took in and thought over these two statements, I could not see anything wrong with either of them except for their exclusive stance toward a particular group.  In truth, church should be for the saved AND the lost.

The church should be a place where the lost feel welcome and where the Gospel can be planted in their hearts, however, it should also be a place where Christians feel comfortable bringing their families because they know that the teachings will help all of them learn to live a holy life pleasing to God.

Going back to the example of the gumballs, what if you were to take one gumball out, change it’s color, and then place it back in the jar.  Would it then be separated?  Well, it would certainly be different, and it would stand out.  It would also no longer be isolated.

different1Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”  John 9:5 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

If we are in the world and no different than the world, then I propose that we are not separated, or to use another word, holy.  To be holy is to be different in a way that gives honor and glory to God instead of bringing attention to ourselves.  If we are so different that we isolate ourselves, and the world has no interaction with us, then they cannot see God in us in that way either.  We may as well be a gumball wrapped in opaque packaging completely cut-of from any interaction, definitely separated, but also just another form of isolation.

There must be balance.  We cannot hope to influence a lost world if we isolate ourselves from them, nor can we be the light to a world if we are no different than they are.  That balance, that distinction between being separated and isolated, that characteristic that points to God instead of ourselves, that is what I believe is holiness.

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