We won’t spend long on this point, but it needs to be dealt with, as a current attitude we hear expressed. The idea is that the church is somehow separate from the world and above it all. This attitude is expressed in recent political movements, that call for our separation from other nations and from institutions like the United Nations. It has been expressed by Christians claiming that to be in a wider union with the world is an anti-Christ, last-days position we must come out of. These teachings are sometimes racist and bring us into the right-wing spectrum of politics. It is very unfortunate that the church has identified itself with politics in this way.
The phrase above, taken from the book of Revelation, doesn’t mean we are to come out of the world or disassociate ourselves from others. It is not a call to Christians to conduct a certain kind of politics. The scriptures don’t speak to Christians about political affiliations in this way. The goals of the church are carried out through relationships with all people, not through political divisions.
We speak about these matters in other sections of this book. Here, the main point is the above text. It means we are to come out of the self-centred ways of the world, not out of the world itself. We are called to be in the world as leaven. And we don’t do this in the way of conquest, but as suffering salt within the world. We don’t set up opposing empires but suffer in the world’s empires and renew them. This is what Christ did and the early apostles and the church, and this is the agenda the New Testament describes. It doesn’t describe any other manifesto for the church than this, to be a Trojan Horse within the world.
The church is to come out of the greed, the self-centred isolation from suffering that we see in individualism, the violence of the supremacy teachings, and be in the world as servants.
We are to come out of the beastly image-bearing we see in the book of Revelation, and bear Christ’s suffering, forgiving image to the world. This is our counter culture.