One of my favorite shows is Monk – the show about the obsessive-compulsive detective who can outsmart you, but not shake hands with you, due to his issues with dirt and germs. That’s when I had an insight about the church and the culture around us.
Monk is a germaphobe – so scared of germs and dirt that he can barely function. Part of the show’s charm is how far he will go to separate himself from any sort of microbe, sickness, or filth. He could never be a doctor, because Doctors have to be comfortable with a certain level of exposure to sickness and sick people. Monk’s phobia, by definition, keeps him from doing anything about the cause he so vehemently detests – namely dirt and diesase.
How many followers of Jesus have turned into Monks? (pun intended) Called to be doctors – helping the sick at heart, the spiritually diseased, and those covered in the filth of the worst of our culture – they have instead decided that their primary calling is to separate themselves from any possible sort of contamination. To be a doctor, you have to rub elbows and shoulders with sick and diseased people.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to LOVE the sickness – immersing yourself in pools of bacteria. But it DOES mean that you have to love the sick person more than you detest the “ickiness” of the sickness. You have to put yourself around where sick people are in order to care for them!
Christ followers – we can’t distance ourselves so much from culture that we can no longer be the wounded-healers the Christ called us to be. We can’t be so focused on staying “clean” that we refuse to influence the culture and the people in that culture who need the Great Physician!
Because Monk is a great TV show – but it is a lousy way to influence the culture for Jesus.