There are two types of people in the world, from a Christian perspective.
There are those who feel called “out of the world” such as the saints, hermits, recluses, monastics, eccentrics and radicals who dedicate their life to either prayer or protest. Either way, they seek to have a refining—redefining—effect on the world they do not acknowledge as their true spiritual or sometimes even physical home. They live elsewhere and bless others by their sheer counterweight existence based on a hope of another world.
The second group feel called not so much “out of the world” but rather to be “in it, but not of it” which can be tricky and up to interpretation, but still runs a recognizable and counter-culture thread through the whole. It’s a harder thread to see, this invisible design of being different—set apart and yet being a part of—than the first group’s clearly recognizable addition of their actual absence.
The first group does not know compromise, but neither do they savour the vicissitudes of community-building. The second group does not know the joys of solitude, but neither do they wrestle with their thought-life overly much.
Both groups seek to follow their Lord and Master. One in the hallowed halls long sanctified by holy examples, which should not be viewed through a modern lens at all. They are simply too long and far away, extending through and back and over ground long lost to the modern time-based dweller. The other group seeks to follow the Lord in the midst of the current circumstance, challenge and community. They are not averse to politics, business, retail, education, society or vocations of all sorts. They seek to shine their inner light, their personal devotion to a God who created all and called it “good” wherever and whenever they can.
One group seeks prayer, the other political action. One seeks personal sanctity and inner humility, the other community service or social justice. One seeks to contemplate hidden wonders and universal principles, the other to teach and build and pass on knowledge. The first group aligns with the prophets’ passion for God while the second affirms the evangelist’s mission to the people.
Together, these two types of people in the Christian world form what God might call a whole body fitly joined together. There is a reliance one on the other, simply because their make-up and view points are so disparate and widely dispersed in and around this great big world, that only their love for each other could bridge the gap and fill in the blanks.
Both groups of people are kingdom builders, seeking to increase and strengthen faith where they find it, or where it is needed. These groups represent faith’s response to the world’s toils and troubles. They see themselves as distinct and discerning elements within a larger cultural milieu, often defined by its pressure to conform, perform, succeed and submit. These two groups are made up of individuals defined by the breadth and freedom of their inner life—whether they express that by retreating or engaging.
God is One God, but he also seems to enjoy the many varieties we come in, even if we can be neatly split into two groups—two halves of one whole to bless and serve our Lord.