I just finished a conversation with a lady that loves Jesus very much. She is finishing up a B.A. in Biblical Studies and feels as though God may be calling her to pursue postgraduate work in Philosophy. She began to share that some people simply didn’t understand why a Christian would pursue philosophy. “Isn’t that for atheists? Isn’t that for people who want to question everything? Doesn’t much of philosophy encourage you to suspend faith in order to seek a more ‘rational’ answer?”
Lurking behind the walls of these individual thoughts is a much wider, broader worldview. This worldview is poisonous, and if I am completely honest, disobedient. The mentality is this: “Retreat, protect yourselves and all that you love, and let what will be be in the world around you.” In other words, install a great distance between you and any form that darkness might take.
Now, I am not a fan of the immature Christian putting themselves in situation that they will inevitably sin in the name of, “I’m only here to be a light.” Do not tell me you are at a club or party to share your faith if you have a problem with alcohol or having sex (outside of marriage). Or, if you are struggling with your faith, then now is not the time to read Nietzsche, Russell, Dawkins, the late Hitchens, etc. You must be wise. There are times in every person’s life when you are more susceptible to the enemy. During these seasons, whether or not you are spiritual victorious may depend primarily upon the situations you choose to put yourself in (or not).
BUT, on other hand, what good is salt if it stays in your pocket? What good is light if you only walk in places where there is already much light? C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Good philosophy must exist, if for nothing else, to answer bad philosophy.” Whether philosophy, a call to mission work in some risky/dangerous area (either locally or foreign, for what does geography have to do with it?), the world of politics, the business sector, the education field, or whatever it is that God intends for you to do for His glory, retreat is defeat. Will not light make the greatest impact where there has been the greatest darkness? No one has said it better than Jesus Himself. In the night before He death and crucifixion, He sat at a table with a few men and left them with these final words:
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
Jesus is praying to the Father, “Leave them right in the middle of everything, but give them what they need to shine rather than conform.” If God has called you to an area that at first glance seems dark, pray about it, bounce it off a few friends and a mentor or two, and if it still burns in your heart, go ahead and move that direction. Retreat is defeat. It reeks with fear, insecurity, and selfishness. Is your life really God’s to do what He bids no matter what those may say around you? Do not stall. Do not waste time. Prepare with all of your heart to be the light He has called you to be in the specific area you were individually crafted to shine. Everything in a disciple’s life should shine Jesus.