Living Independently Of A Godless Culture

urban estateBy Bill Collier- As the US Supreme Court considers making gay marriage a RIGHT so that Christians who refuse  to participate in or agree with this practice are persecuted if they operate in the public marketplace Christians need to consider radical and necessary alternatives to being dependent on a godless society’s institutions for their life necessities. Christians can escape the control and influence of this godless society without giving up their mandate to be witnesses and influence for Jesus to that society.

Throughout history Christians have had to balance our general ethic of not being PART of the godless “world system” while carrying out “the Great Commission” and making disciples of the nations. In societies rooted in Christian morality and ethics the Christian can simply participate in the social, cultural, and economic arrangements and institutions without having to compromise their beliefs. But in a society whose values are actually contrary to Christian morality and ethic, following the norms and standards required to participate in that society’s social, cultural, and economic arrangements would require a compromise of Christian values.

The response to this has never been for the Christian to simply compromise in order to have access to the social, cultural, and economic arrangements as determine by the elites of a godless society. In society that dictates that every business that offers services to the public  or every worker for such business must participate in activities that are contrary to our Christian faith it becomes difficult for Christians to freely pursue economic life without compromising their beliefs.

The response has always been to separate aspects of our life that we can from the godless society, without necessarily so totally withdrawing as to lose our ability to be a witness and an influence. We need to be independent of the surrounding godless society for our necessities, otherwise that dependence becomes the basis not merely of controlling us, we may choose ruin over compromise, but to set in place obstacles to faith for our progeny who will find that attempting to follow Christ is to their economic ruin. It is not only we ourselves who are impacted by a failure to pursue greater independence from the godless society and its godless arrangements, norms’ and institutions, it is also our progeny who will be born into a world where it is difficult to even learn about the gospel let  alone fully life it out.

So the idea of a Christian “Estate” in which some members live on the site and all members center much of their economic, social, and cultural life on that institution, while not completely withdrawing from the surrounding society, is likely to gain traction as Christians seek to protect themselves and their progeny from economic ruin and to provide a SPACE wherein one may freely pursue God and worship God as their conscience requires.

Think of an Estate as a missionary community, as a place of refuge, and as a local outreach center that both goes into the neighboring streets to witness and welcomes local people in to receive ministry from the community.

It is in one sense a closed community- membership is limited to Bible-following Christians of a similar conviction, and many activities, including social, religious, cultural, and economic, are only inclusive of members and their guests. For instance, marriage ceremonies within the social quarters only include members and their guests, so there is no offer of services related to those events to the public. A member’s only market is governed by Christian values and ethics and only members may participate, therefore vendors are only offering services within a space that is restricted to community members, like a fraternal society’s lodge which is not open to the public.

The closed aspect of this community is like a private household which is not open to the public. We can all agree that there are areas of life that are private and public, the estate expands the area of life that is private, through an extended multi-family household that is connected to other similar households within a distributed community. The area of life that is private, under individual privacy or shared privacy (like a family in a single house enjoys) is extended to protect the individual from undue influence or control by or dependence upon a godless society.

These Estates would be tied to fraternal societies, which, like the Estate itself, are private associations closed to the public. The social quarters of a fraternal society’s lodge are private, member’s only spaces.

But, like many Societies, Estates would have a public and open aspect as well.  For instance, regardless of what one thinks of Masons, most everyone agrees that the good work done by the Shriners for children is exemplary. Having myself been a beneficiary of the Shriners as a child in a state-run boarding school, I can attest to the good these folks do. Their events and activities are OPEN and public, and they certainly have impact.

So then an Estate, while it would have private spaces for member residences and private but common spaces for members who may or may not live on site, would have plenty of open and public space that, like a Shriners’ Hospital, serve the general public. A mission would include an outreach and ministry center to provide services to people in need and space for ministry activities and a chapel which would both serve a place of worship for members and a facility for locals to use to mediate, pray, or seek counsel and for ministries or church groups to use.

The idea that Christians cannot have ANY shared space that is PRIVATE and governed socially by their shared values and convictions seems to also deny that Christian families in their private homes ought to have  space closed to the outside wherein they have a safe haven from the influence and control of a godless society. Within the United States, the vehicles of intentional communities, land trusts, and fraternal societies allow for the creation of spaces and relationships that are exempted from the norms that prevail in public life.

The Estate is an idea that combines these legal arrangements into one setting. A land trust sets aside the land of the Estate for the creation of a safe-haven for Christians and a place of ministry to serve the surrounding community. An intentional community based on a freewill covenant association designates the community’s purpose, ethic. And conditions of residency according to shared Christian beliefs and values. A fraternal society allows for the creation of private shared space for certain activities and open public space for ministry activities.

Through Estates, which include members who live in or near the Estate, Christians can live out their faith and unique shared convictions together in the assurance that all participants have the same moral and ethical standards. But this does not prevent being a witness, in fact any Christian Estate worthy of the name CHRISTIAN must necessarily be outward focused on being a witness and an influence. By living the Gospel and their own unique shared convictions together, they both demonstrate the power and efficacy of the Gospel and have the means of distributing the benefits of the Gospel to the general community through their shared ministry and outreach.

There will be some who will always oppose this idea, they will raise countless objections, but as the godless society becomes more hostile to Christianity in its public spaces the need for private spaces which allow Christians to SIMPLY SURVIVE will grow greater.

Unlike some schemes, the Estate concept does not create such a large community of ONLY Christians and their dependents that they are cut off from the outside world and isolated. Estates will be placed right within neighborhoods, they will look and feel like a housing development or apartment building with its own social and market area for residents (and members) and a mission that is open to the public. They are large enough (around 20-30 member residences and 10 guest residences for refugees, visitors, and people in need with around 120 total members attached) to be fairly self-reliant of their basic necessities, and small enough to be able to integrate into the surrounding community as  a witness and an influence for Jesus.

While I do envision larger communities for refugees or for regional and global facilities that may be much larger, these “hubs” would support many hundreds and thousands of Estates distributed, like stars in the black sky, throughout the world. So the larger scale communities will have a place in the future, both for the Society I envision and other Christian groups and societies, but the Estate will be more normal and practical and most people who participate in this “in the world but not OF the world” lifestyle will encounter and experience it within an Estate or its equivalent.

Whether the Supreme Court rules in favor of s-called “gay marriage” or not, thus determining whether even Christian churches will be tax exempt unless they marry homosexuals, the mere fact that this is in the cards being used by the godless elites should be enough of a wake-up call for Christians to realize that simply being dependent on this godless society for your life necessities is not a wise idea. One does not have to give uo being a witness and an influence for Jesus in order become independent of the current godless society. The concept of an Estate as a Christian intentional but MISSIONARY community allows for both living independently of the godless society and remaining a witness and influence for Jesus to that society.

If you would like to helping the eventual creation of a MODEL Estate which can be used to help people set these new institutions up, go to www.upadaria.com  REGISTER with the site for updates and information as it becomes available.