The Necessity of Proximity

Brian Clark

The Necessity of Proximity

The Monastic movement swept Europe many centuries ago. The idea behind the idea of the monasteries, convents, etc., had some merit. I had a friend once who decided that he wanted to be a hermit. This was no idle idea; he really wanted to be in a place where he saw no one. He was tired of people and just wanted to get away from everyone except his own immediately family. He moved his family to a very, very remote part of Wyoming. They moved back within two years. The privation, the loneliness, the remoteness and the obscurity got the best of him. The Monastic movement tried sort of the same thing; the idea being that one could withdraw from society and just worship and meditate. I have to (sort of) admire the monks, nuns, friars, etc., who tried this, but this is NOT God’s plan. We Christians cannot be “salt and light” and be withdrawn from society at the same time. It is necessary that we be “near” others, hence “the necessity of proximity” (nearness).

Monday…Revelation 21 reminds us in several verses that God will someday live with us. Think about that for a moment and then remember that Jesus, who is the perfect representation of God (Hebrews 1) came to live with us. We romanticize Jesus’ coming and mingling with people, but remember: 2000 years ago sanitation was lacking, comfortable housing was lacking, disease and infection were common, violence was a way of life for the Roman conquerors, etc. Would you like to live with others under those conditions?

Tuesday…My youngest child just celebrated a birthday. She and her husband went to an incredible resort in Mexico to celebrate. She texted me and (jokingly) said that she was not coming back to Indiana after she had seen what this resort had to offer. Can you imagine Jesus leaving Heaven to come to earth? We know why he did that because John 3:16,17 tell us. Our love for others will compel us to mingle/mix/befriend them so that they may know the Lord and be saved.

Wednesday…One of the accusations leveled against Jesus was that “He ate with sinners.” Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners, a drunkard and a glutton. All of this because He associated with everyone who would listen to Him. See Matthew 11:19 and remember that we, like Jesus, are to be friendly to all in the hope that some will accept the truth.

Thursday…Paul said that “he became all things to all men so that he might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Did that cost Paul? Yes. Is it difficult sometimes to listen to others and accept others who are very different from oneself? Yes. Do I have trouble with this? Yes, I do…but I know this: I am to form relationships with anyone who will let me do so in the hope that they might someday be saved.

Friday…Is it right to manipulate people for the sole purpose of collecting another scalp for the Kingdom? (I know these are crass terms, but you get my drift.) No, it is never right to manipulate people. It IS right to really love folks where they are and offer friendship for the sake of Jesus who died for all.

By Dale Holzbauer