In rendering the Greek text of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 as “Abstain from all APPEARANCE of evil” translators of the KJV may have unwittingly promoted an unorthodox and unhealthy dynamic between Christians and “The World.”

For if the hermeneutical axiom that “Scripture interprets Scripture” be granted its legitimate function, and if Paul actually meant “Abstain from all APPEARANCE of evil,” then Luke 7:34 suggests that this Pauline life-principle finds no adherent in Jesus, much less a supreme example.

The charge that Jesus was a “glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’” suggests at the least that Jesus frequently found himself in the company of pagans. But a close reading of the Gospels, and particularly Luke’s account, shows that meeting up with pagans was at the heart of his mission. According to Luke, Jesus openly revealed his mission: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).

The church is a spiritual army whose mission is to liberate the lost. Cowering in “the fort” will not accomplish this goal.

Christ commanded us to “GO!” To “rescue the perishing” we must first “rub shoulders” with them.

To be sure, we must take precautions when “rubbing shoulders” with the wicked [a good rule of thumb is to outnumber them!] It is not a matter of participating in their sinful acts; it is a matter of making ourselves available to them. We simply must not allow our evangelistic efforts to be paralyzed, or worse yet, entirely thwarted by the fear that others will judge us “guilty by association.” Instead of reaching out to them, we will isolate ourselves from them.

Christians have clung to a “fort mentality” far too long. Only eternity will reveal the full extent to which this misguided modus operandi has stunted the evangelistic mission of the church. May God give us the courage to move out in faith by the power of his Spirit into our communities, workplaces, and social centers to proclaim liberty to those bound by our spiritual adversary, satan–modeling and mentoring them in their new life in Christ!

What do you think about this? Do you think the church has not done an effective job of making ourselves available to the world? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

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