There Is Power In Proximity

Do you want to live a life where you are free from the control and influence of a system that opposes your faith and convictions as a Christian? If you want such freedom you have to live a life of independence from that system.

Independence from outside control and influence doesn’t prevent you from being a witness to people who remain in that system. But dependence can seriously inhibit your ability to be a witness without incurring serious consequences. As it says, “he who has the gold, rules.” If you don’t have the gold, you don’t rule, and if you don’t rule then you are ruled.

We were meant to live in this world system (kosmos) without being of this world system. We see in Scripture that we are to live separate from the worldlings, and even to flee from places where judgment is about to fall. We are even told (Jeremiah 10) to “learn not the way of the heathen.” The idea that we should be integrated with or dependent upon the world system so we can be a witness is without Biblical basis. The standard is socioeconomic and socio-cultural separation, not integration and dependence.

If you are someone who just knows that being independent of this current system is better than being dependent then read on. If you wish to remain dependent because you think that’s the only way you can be a witness, then opt out by clicking away. For the purpose of this post (and the fraternal society I am proposing to build) I am looking to connect with people who want independence now.  As for everyone else, we’ll re-engage them at a later date.

You need to be independent of the current system OR that system will pressure you to conform and punish you if you fail to out their priorities ahead of your convictions. 

You can be independent by being rich, although even then you can lose everything quickly. But the only other way to be independent is to be connected to other people who have the same convictions as you do. I said convictions, not just beliefs.

Being connected with people whose beliefs AND convictions are in close proximity to your own is the key to achieving independence from people who actively oppose your beliefs and convictions. Doesn’t that make perfect sense to you?

You see, every day you depend on relationships and connections whose rules and standards are not in harmony with your convictions and beliefs. How do I know that? The answer is that most Christians depend on the current system. And that system is opposed to Christians beliefs and convictions.To please the current culture portrayed on your TV and in your classroom means you might have to violate your beliefs or convictions.

As an individual I have aligned as much of my life as possible with people and entities that either share my convictions or celebrate my right to live them out in my life. Compared to most people, my dependence on the current system for income, for instance, is pretty low. This doesn’t mean I only associate with and serve people whose convictions are highly proximate to my own, I interact with a lot of people. But those who think I should not be so free to practice my convictions don’t have much or any influence over how I make a living.

But I am not as independent as I need to be, this despite being conscious about the need to be independent!

I still strive to be as independent as possible on my own. But I discovered years ago that you can’t be independent on your own. You need to be connected to other people who help and support each other like extended families used to do back in the day. And so I tried many different ideas and efforts to recreate that kind of extended family relationship in my life with other people.

I had and have many good relationships. I cooperate with other people and I owe what little success I have to those relationships. The important caveat is that I didn’t build those relationships so I could have help when I need it. Having those relationships is the actual end goal. Relationships are the brass ring in this life, starting with our relationship with God and then our spouses, and on and on to an ever wider circle of human connections that bring wholeness and joy to all involved.

But I discovered that, as much as I value and will always value those relationships, I still wasn’t where I know we all need to be.

I didn’t have that social intimacy of trust and shared goals that we can associate with a more traditional extended family.

First, those kinds of relationships are second only in value and importance to our spouses, children, and immediate kin (parents and siblings).

Second, we humans are hardwired to be involved in such relationships- the original hunter-gatherer bands into which humans were born for millennia were essentially extended families.

Third, it is unnatural and psychically unhealthy for human beings to be deprived for those relationships. In fact it will result in total moral and eventually social collapse wherever extended families or their equivalent disappear from social life. (Wait….that’s already happened, hasn’t it?)

Fourth, and back to our subject, most everyone who is not super rich can only be independent of the current system if they have an extended family or its equivalent in their lives. It would be wrong to try to reproduce the social intimacy of trust and shared goals that come from an extended family just so you can have physical or economic  independence.  But the socio-cultural independence that such extended families enjoy leads to independence in all other areas as well.

So I came to a place of realization that I still lacked an extended family type of experience.  And why was that? The answer became clear over time: while I have many relationships based on shared beliefs, from shared faith to shared political beliefs, I had few based on share convictions and shared goals. An extended family that operated like a giant single extended household and that did a lot together had close proximity not only in broad beliefs but in narrow convictions. They also shared physical resources, like food, shelter, and money even, to ensure the welfare of all members.

So proximity becomes the key thing here. If you want independence you need relationships based on a high proximity of shared beliefs, convictions, and goals. Proximity is the basis of social intimacy, and that provides trust. This ensures that working for the common good of the people in that group aligns perfectly with what is good for you and with your own dreams and goals.

This does not mean you only have relationships with people in your “kindred” group.  The well balanced individual has a broad spectrum of relationships that have varying degrees of proximity.  I am focusing on a completely missing relationship here that will improve your quality of life and make you a more effective and independent witness for Jesus.

Your church, in the modern Western sense of what churches have become, is no substitute for such a highly “proximal” association that is akin to an extended family. Churches today have a broad and shallow basis of common union, though in terms of liturgy they may have narrow convictions.  But as to such intimate convictions as how to raise children, food culture, roles of family members, and many other detailed matters, they leave that to individuals and families. Some get more into these issues than others, but few go beyond that to having any kind of common purse to care for members such as extended families might.

To have something like an extended family relationship you need tight proximity of convictions and goals that line up with your own convictions and goals. To be truly independent you need extended family relationships.

As I explored extended family relationships I saw a need for great proximity but I also saw that extended families did not exist in a vacuum. Take the Italian extended family in America until the 198o’s. It did not exist in a vacuum. In fact, if you grew up in an Italian extended family in America prior to this millennium you have many shared experiences with people from other such families.

There is something that bonds extended families and supports them as well. The basis of that something may be, and often is, religious belief, but these may be beliefs shared with very different groups of people. These beliefs may make these disparate groups feel as one in the faith, e.g. all Catholics or all Pentecostals, but these broad shared beliefs are not narrow enough to keep an extended family together.

That bonding ingredient is culture. Culture is a shared social diagram that defines what is rewarded, what is venerated, what is required, what is allowed, what is tolerated, what is frowned upon, and what is taboo and punished. Culture tells you the specific roles and functions for every family member. It dictates your menu. It dictates how your find a mate. It dictates your work-life balance. It dictates your language. There is very little we as individuals can do outside the bounds for the culture in which we operate. We can choose our culture, but we cannot simply make all of our decisions about all these things without some consideration of our cultural environment.

Christianity is our faith.  But it is a social as well as an individual lifestyle in actual manifestation and practice. In other words, our faith is not simply believed but it is practiced.

There can be many Christian cultures that differ in many ways from each other. But many cultures are actually based on belief systems that are opposed to Christianity. If you obey the rules of such a culture then you compromise your beliefs and convictions. But all truly Christian cultures are compatible and people from such cultures can form broader faith communities that connect them to other people they do not have a kindred relationship to. On the other hand, whenever Christianity is practiced it produces and requires a socio-cultural manifestation to be fully lived and experienced in this world.

Culture bonds an extended family together but an extended family is insufficient in size or resources to develop and maintain its own independent culture. Extended families need the mutual support of other extended families who share the same culture. They may also have support and get aid from or give aid to other families outside their culture group but inside their faith group. They may do the same inside the broadest of groups, that of their country where they are located, or a political party or some other broad-based group beyond their kinship, cultural, and faith groups.

Now let’s consider where I was at.  On one hand I wanted an extended family kind of experience because I saw that this is actually necessary both for individual happiness and from the long-term survival of any society or civilization. On the other hand I believe God has planted in me the seeds of a new nation of people whose God is the Lord.

In my mind I hadn’t seen the inextricable connection between the two goals: to experience and be part of an extended Christian family and to plant and nurture the seeds of a new Christian nation.

A powerful and sublime realization has dawned on me- the imparting to people of the spiritual DNA of this new nation of people will be what enables them and myself to actually re-create and experience the proximal bonds only an extended family type relationship can provide! What I have been given, and what I share, is the core DNA of a nation, which has its own culture and its own shared goals. You see the nation is God’s intended culture bearing agency, not only in this world but even in the world to come.

This is important to understand.  Christianity requires a cultural manifestation to be fully experienced.  But Christianity is not a culture, it is a faith.  Diversity of cultures is prescribed within the Body of Christ, so long as that diversity does not lead to separation from fellow Christians. But culture is more specific than our common faith, which intentionally leaves many details to individuals and culture. 

Christianity and the Body of Christ, the church or ecclesia, and the Kingdom for God are all beget than nations and culture.  I often speak of a universal Christian nation in a spiritual sense and in the sense of Christian unity, but diverse nations have always been important to God and would necessarily be important within the Body of Christ. 

Nations bear and create culture. They extend kinship to a scale that supports and nurtures extended families and their cultural bonds, both among their members and with other extended families. Nations are not defined as political states, though nations can and often do play a political role, of at least for self-preservation. The line between a nation and a political state can be blurred, but nations are defined by a specific cultural identity, or kinship, whether or not they have political influence or power. 

Just like today’s churches in the West are not kinship groups like extended families because they are not primarily cultural constructs so too political states are not nations because they are not cultural constructs. Churches are based on shared theology and liturgy primarily and political states are based not political ideology primarily.  The exceptions prove the rule here. 

So I realized that nations are the progenitors of extended famous and they nurture extended families. It now makes sense why I have a desire to experience such kinship bonds and why I have received the seeds of a new nation with its own unique Christian culture, or at least the starting point for the eventual emergence of such a culture. It is through a vision of a nation that unrelated people can come together and form intentional extended multi-family covenant households as our equivalent to the extended family. People who accept and adopt this vision and way of life will be able to connect with other people who share the same vision and this instantly provide the cultural bond needed to make that work. 

People could come together on the basis of faith alone and explore things together until they arrived at a consensus regarding the kind of culture or standards they will follow.  This may or may not work depending on the commitment of the people involved. But it will take a good bit of time and it will lack any larger scale support. The point is that any extended family will have to have the same culture and that goes beyond the broad agreement of our faith. 

For me the answer was always there. A common national level culture as prescribed by what God has shown me and as shared here is quite sufficient to quickly establish a larger scale community online that can then nurture local groups of people who form intentional multi-family covenant households as our version of the extended family.

Proximity is needed for independence. Culture is a product of national identity. Cultural proximity is necessary for the creation of socially intimate relationship. If we live in a society whose culture and national identity are not rooted in our beliefs and convictions than the only way to become independent of that system is to operate within a culture and national identity of our own. Doing this does not prevent us or hinder us from being a witness to the people surrounding us who are part of that culture. In fact, doing this will make us better witnesses to that culture and the people under its control.

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