By Bill Peel
The term “cocooning” was coined by trend forecaster Faith Popcorn to describe Americans who were socializing less and hunkering down at home to protect themselves from the harsh realities of the outside world. This trend fed a burgeoning do-it-yourself industry and sparked home-entertainment innovations, such as video game systems, rec rooms, and media rooms.
Today cocooning has never been easier. After all, why go to the hassle of planning dinner and a movie with friends, when we can have dinner delivered to our door and watch a favorite film from the comfort of our couch?
I think we’re looking for protection. Almost like the Jetsons, we want to walk around in a little bubble. —Faith Popcorn
Many Christians have adopted a unique form of cocooning. They insolate themselves in a Christian bubble—at work, after work, and on the weekends—ducking relationships, as best they can, with skeptics or people of other faiths. This is antithetical to Jesus’ teaching. In the Sermon on the Mount, He told His followers, “You are the salt of the earth.” For salt to do its work, it has to make contact.
Ironically, Christians don’t realize that when they isolate and insulate themselves from the world, they are allowing the world—the very world they want to avoid— to shape their lifestyle. Paul challenged Christians in Rome about this danger.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Cocooning is not an option for Christians. Jesus wants us to be in the world, though not of the world. He asked the Father not to isolate us from the world, but to insulate us from Satan’s corrupting influence.
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world . (John 17:15-18)
1. They evaluate the vitality of our faith. Only those who aren’t running in church circles can help us see whether or not our lives carry any spiritual weight.
2. They discourage our tendency to stereotype. Our generalizations—such as, “All gays/atheists/Muslims/Jews/Hindus are _________”—are exposed as both unkind and lazy.
3. They compel us to articulate what we believe. Building bridges with friends who aren’t Christians forces us to go past our doctrinal platitudes into truly owning our faith.
4. They teach us to listen. Christians who lack meaningful connections outside their subculture have a historically rotten reputation for speaking first, speaking angrily, and listening little.
5. They remind us of what is non-essential. Connecting with people who operate differently than we do helps illuminate what really matters in life and what doesn’t.
6. They offer fresh perspective on Jesus. Sometimes nonbelieving friends ask poignant questions —such as, “Do you really believe that Jesus was committed to living, working, and serving people in the margins?”—that remind us about who He is and what He values.
Jesus lived in the midst of fallen, depraved world. He spent time with the kind of people the religious leaders avoided—so much time, in fact, He was called a friend of sinners.
Jesus calls us to do the same. While not of the world, our place is in the world —not in a spiritual cocoon.
Originally published at the Center for Faith and Work, LeTourneau University. Image: CFW.