Joined but distinct?

(I hope no one is offended by this, but I am just trying to foster some critical thinking.)

I have been pondering lately about a phrase Paul mentions where he advises Christians to be "in the world, but not of the world." This seems to be contrary to much of what some Christians are doing: whether one considers sending one's children to private Christian schools, to the extreme of the Amish who live and work in separate / segregated communities; or some "modern" churches who take no official stances on controversial issues such as abortion or homosexuality, or even others who may take no official stance on less controversial issues such as rules about what kinds of songs should be used in worship services, the idea being there doesn't seem to be much difference between them and "the world."

Where I'm going with this is, Jesus our Lord and Saviour charges Christians to be "lights of the world" and "salt of the earth", and it just seems like, I suppose to avoid confrontation perhaps, most Christians I know of are either the self-righteous types who also distance themselves (i.e. private schools, avoid public events, etc) or the worldly types who place no restrictions on the type of television their kids can watch, video games they can play, etc. I think there is a delicate balance to being in the world and yet of Christ.

I guess what is prompting me to bring this up, is I'm curious what some of the experienced brothers and sisters in Christ would have to say, because to me it seems, when faced with a situation of having to be around atheists or homosexuals due to, say the workplace or the marketplace, the easy thing seems to be to separate. However, something inside me wants to confront these people, but I want to be effective and win them over to Christ as well. On the other hand, I know of Christians who befriend these types of people, and it doesn't seem that that wins them over either.

Perhaps repentence can only come from within, I don't know. What I do know, is the secular / cultural war that is going on between Christians and non-Christians, well, it doesn't appear that we are winning the battle. Part of that, makes me think of this scripture of Paul, and wondering if in fact, we should be constantly retreating (so it seems) vice being lights of the world, examples for people (saved or unsaved) to see and follow. Fact is, most of the people in sin or addiction, aren't happy even though they might put on a smily face, but I don't see how they can ever find another way to live if we just let them think everyone is like them. On the other hand, I have seen people with the fish symbol on their car bumper drive like maniacs too, so I guess the "wearing religion on your sleeve" thing can be good or bad depending.

Thoughts?

Finding a balance by Noshic
confronting sinners by Justin S. (not verified)
I agree by Noshic
exactly :) by Justin S. (not verified)
I like it! by NTC
untouchables by tomgroeneman

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