"I don't see the apostles hiding in their holy huddles, not going into the world to reach people with the gospel, but just focusing on the people in the church!"
"True, but I don't see them doing things that look exactly like the world, in order to attract people, and then trying to sneak the gospel in!"
The two Scriptures I quoted above seem to sum up the battle in my mind, and yet they aren't conflicting. But if you emphasize one without the other, the results can be disastrous. Since I've been trying to sort out the balance in my mind, I wanted to vent my thoughts somewhere, and a blog is a great place to do it!
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul said that he had written before to say not to keep company with sinners. But in this chapter he clarified by saying that he didn't mean sinners of the world, because then we'd have to go to the moon. (Jesus was a friend of publicans and sinners.) Rather, the ones Paul commanded to dis-fellowship were those in the church who were living a bad lifestyle, because the church is the place that's supposed to be different from the world! This is the place where people should be able to find refuge in Jesus' arms and begin living a different life. Those in the church should be very distinct from those in the world. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life. When people see how different we are...that our fruit is a tree of life...they'll want to be a part of that! But if we look just like them, there's no reason for them to want to be like us. There's no difference. In our Bible study, we recently got done studying 1 and 2 Peter, which is like the counter-cultural Christian's guide! The main point is the conclusion of what I have been thinking about how to reconcile the two verses I quoted from the outset. We are supposed to be in the world, but our identity is supposed to be like that of the image of the Son of God, very different from the world, which is what will eventually win souls.
I'll close with these verses from 1 Peter 3 that sum up what I'm saying.
1Pe 3:8-16 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: (9) Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. (10) For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: (11) Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. (12) For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (13) And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? (14) But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; (15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (16) Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.