Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Isolation or Insulation - Boat

Isolation or Insulation?


Isolate yourself from our worldly culture.

Insulate yourself from worldly influences.


Which is it? Are we to isolate or insulate?

As our nation continues to distance itself from its Judeo-Christian roots, Christians find themselves more and more detached from the mainstream by our values. The march to secularize Christian holidays is relentless. Intentional degradation, mockery, and legal attacks on Christian beliefs have diminished Christian influence in our culture.

The response of many believers is retreat and isolation. To protect themselves and their families from wrong influences and possible temptation, some believers respond with withdrawal and separation. It’s a reasonable and biblical response in light of 2 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV), which tells us:

“‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord.”

But what about Jesus’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV):

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

How do we reconcile these two passages? Which are we to follow: the passage in Corinthians or the passage in Matthew?


Be a boat

The best way to illustrate how we’re to respond might be described with the image of a boat.

Boats are made for the water. Isolating a boat by keeping it on dry land may protect it from wear and damage. But every moment it’s out of the water is a moment the boat is not fulfilling the purpose for which it was created.

Still, for a boat to be operational in the water, it needs to be built with effective insulating protection from the water. A properly outfitted boat in the water is good, but water in a poorly insulated or sealed boat is not good. Water in the boat will compromise the vessel and ultimately destroy its usefulness.

There’s our answer. That’s how we can apply both Bible passages. We continue to be salt and light in a culture becoming more and more corrupt and dark. Yet, we’re intentional about not allowing our culture’s values to creep into our lives. If we’re not careful, the consequences will be compromising and we’ll fail to fulfill the purposes God intended for us.

So where do we draw the line? How do we know when the culture has influenced us instead of us influencing the culture?

Perhaps it’s when we spend more time trying to fit in rather than standing up.

When we conform ourselves to the world’s patterns of behavior instead of being transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Or when we answer those who disagree with us politically or morally with the same rude or antagonistic retorts we’ve received.

When our church services are more focused on being culturally relevant than being biblical and worshipful.

Or when the saltiness of our lives becomes so bland that our friends and family no longer see a difference in us.

For Christians, the answer is not isolation. The answer is to be salt and light while surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s protective insulation.

Be a boat!

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