Once upon a time, in a land far away, in an age of castles, kings, and popes, there was a group of people known as hermits. These Christian hermits, also known as eremites, would go far from homes, towns, and civilization to live alone or in small enclaves of other hermits. They thought that they could become more holy by withdrawing from society and other people.
Hermit Crab Christianity, And How To Make It Stop
The heyday of the Christian hermits is supposedly long gone. Unfortunately, there are still many Christians who practice a functional eremitic lifestyle. I call it Hermit Crab Christianity.
Do You Recognize Hermit Crab Christianity?
Christians should spend time with other Christians. In fact, Christians are commanded to love one another, care for one another, give to one another, and fellowship with one another. Yet the Christian community serves a purpose bigger than self-sustaining, self-caring, inward-focused activity.
I see Hermit Crab Christianity in the way we choose to invite people for play dates, golf partners, dinner guests, pool parties, exercise partners, vacation groups, carpool riders, moving help, and so on. It’s not that Christians are withdrawing into solitary confinement. Rather, it is that Christians are spending all their time with other Christians, neglecting the mandate to share their faith with nonbelievers (Matthew 5:13-16; Matthew 10:7-14; Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:14).
Our daily lives provide ample opportunity to befriend and love those who have not yet come to faith in Jesus. Our role is to look actively for these opportunities and eagerly seize them.
How to Come Out of Your Shell
Hermit Crab Christianity has become such an ingrained part of our Christian culture, making it hard to come out of our little Christian huddles. Either we stay in our homes and our churches, or we journey forth in a Christian cluster. Of course, you should not neglect your interaction, discipleship, and fellowship with other Christians. Instead, devote some of your time to cultivating relationships with others—with nonbelievers. Here are a few suggestions.
- Join a community sports league.
- Participate in your homeowners association (HOA) meetings.
- Volunteer to feed the homeless and hungry in your area.
- Train to help at a local crisis pregnancy center.
- Attend special events at local parks, libraries, and cultural centers.
- Invite neighbors over for a meal.
- Offer to carpool with coworkers who may live nearby.
- Find a good match for your skills and schedule by volunteering for a local cause (www.volunteermatch.org).
- Host a (free) backyard barbecue for neighbors on your street or block.
- Offer to babysit the children of neighbors (for free).
- Offer to help neighbors with gardening, moving, repairs, or other two-person tasks.
- Take a class at your local community college.
- Offer your home for a foreign exchange student.
- Train to become a foster parent.
- Join a health club or YMCA.
- Help build homes for Habitat for Humanity.
- Introduce yourself to the barista, cashier, or gas station attendant whom you keep meeting.
There is nothing complicated or difficult about interacting with other people. It is a step out of your comfort zone, but it is a good step. The entire purpose of destroying Hermit Crab Christianity is to carry out the spread of God’s Kingdom right where we are—in our towns and communities. It is our responsibility and privilege as Christians to spread the good news to those around us. This week, find someone who needs the good news, and begin to build a relationship.