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Separation Can Lead to Isolation

Why the Pharisees liked bubbles, and why we should avoid them
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Adventures in Missing the Point". See series.


Imagine a weird world where, before you can be admitted to a hospital, you have to have a clean bill of health. A world where doctors won't see you if you are sick, because they are afraid of contracting your disease. In this place, the only way you can get glasses is to have perfect vision. The only way to get dental care is to have a perfect smile. Think how odd it would be to live in a world where counselors or therapists would only see happy, well-adjusted people.

Imagine a world where people who get lost in the wilderness are required to come down from the mountain and get cleaned up and patched up before the search and rescue team will agree to see them. Where teachers only instruct the wise and knowledgeable. Where restaurants refuse to serve hungry people. Where the thirsty are denied water. Where the lonely are kept in isolation until they make friends.

Is this some kind of world out of the Twilight Zone? Is it some horrific creation of Stephen King? What kind of world would you be in? You'd be in a world where the isolationist logic of the Pharisees was pervasive. And not just the 1st century Pharisees, either, but the 21st century variety as well.

As we have seen in the past several weeks, the Pharisees were convinced that the key to maintaining purity was to live in isolation from those who they saw as being far from God. In fact, the word Pharisee means "separated ones." They stood in contrast to the group in their day known as the Hellenists, who embraced everything about the Greco/Roman world without question. Again, we do not want to be overly critical of the Pharisees, because their initial desire was to honor God.

Is that true of our world? Have we isolated ourselves from the very people we are ...

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Ed Rowell is pastor of Tri-Lakes Chapel in Monument, Colorado, and author of Preaching with Spiritual Passion (Baker).

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Sermon Outline:


I. Confusion about separation

II. Three inaccurate definitions of worldliness

III. The example of Jesus

IV. A better definition of worldliness