Escapism -- By: Monte E. Wilson

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 06:2 (Spring 1997)
Article: Escapism
Author: Monte E. Wilson


Monte E. Wilson

We are indeed called to “set [our] minds on the things above” (Col. 3:2), remembering, however, that this command is not structural in its thrust, telling us “where” to live our lives, but directional, telling us “how” and “in whose Name” to do so. The best way to seek the things above is to participate in God’s mission in His world.

Though fallen, this is still “our Father’s world.” In Christ He set out to restore His masterpiece. If, then, God has not turned His back on creation, neither may we. In fact, every attempt to flee the world in this sense is tantamount to a death wish. It is therefore very misleading to sing along with catchy gospel hymn: “This world is not my home, I’m just passin’ through....” For the time being, at least, this world, and none other, is our God-appointed habitat. Of all people, Christians have every right to feel at home in this world of God’s making—at home, but not at ease, for the challenges of earthkeeping and caretaking are enormous. 1

Escape. This word perfectly characterizes our generation. Even worse, escapism has become a doctrine among many Christians. While the world avoids its problems through massive overdoses of television, recreation, and drugs, Christians dodge theirs by hiding in prayer closets and reading novels about the any-moment return of Jesus Christ. For these believers, the disease is despair and the diagnosis is terminal.

The world surveys itself and says, “There is no hope. Communism has failed, democracy is impotent, and everyone else is in no position to stop the downward spiral into destruction. World War III is inevitable.” Christians respond to this by saying, “Good. The world is about to fall apart. Too bad you unbelievers will be judged, but that’s the price you pay for your rebellion. As for us, we’ll escape the coming

Tribulation.” So, while a few feverishly try to restore some peace and order, and others run around affixing Band-Aids to cancer, most are content to “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow (Praise the Lord!) it all falls apart.”

Such an attitude is quite prevalent among pietists. With their dualistic view of the world, they hate time and matter. They see both as hindrances to their holiness. At best this world is merely a holding tank until we go to heaven. Yet, although we may have to dig deep in some cases, in nearly every pietist there is a sense of despair and hopelessness for anything substantially good this side of heaven. In fact, as Philip J. Lee writes, many time...

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