According to CNN, more and more conservative Christians are trying to live “off the grid.”
Take His Holy Church, for example, run by Brother Gregory who apparently has a well-used Strong’s Concordance. His website coordinates a kind of church without walls, a true government of liberty where you never have to pay taxes.
That’s a bit of a simplification, but I will say this. If he believes in the deity of Christ you will need more than a half hour to find it. I finally quit looking.
The good brother is a sheep farmer lost in Oregon somewhere who really wants to live off the grid, as long as there is an internet connection. Not really off the grid, he protests. He just wants a better one, without any government but a man’s conscience.
His is the original, New Testament church, he says. And you can become a minister by joining the “living network” and having a couple of witnesses sign your petition. Salvation has something to do with ignoring the government, I think, but you have to download the books to figure it out (they’re free).
This group has nothing on the Christian Exodus people, who tried to get everyone to move to Carolina a few years ago so they could succeed from the union. After a lot of people showed up without any way to support themselves, they now encourage “personal succession.” And apparently moving to Montana to prepare for armed resistance.
Their network advocates home schooling, home gardening, house churches and the like, connected though the internet in micro-communities, social networking with like-minded people who are often so personally succeeded they won’t tell each other their names.
It must be hard to track people who don’t want to be tracked, unless of course you are Google or the government.
Now we home schooled, although for different reasons. And, just in case you work for the IRS, you should know I’m not stockpiling automatic weapons or ignoring my taxes. But I’m not entirely unsympathetic to these people. There is lots of scary stuff in the world. Government is too big and people are too busy.
I’ll even agree with them that big-government-ism, or whatever they call it, can be idolatry. But so can any cause, save the cause of Christ himself.
Unfortunately they are a bit hypocritical in using the technology they seek to escape to get others to join them. You can’t get any more on the grid than that.
But that’s not the real problem.
Christ sent his church into the world to proclaim the good news, and building private enclaves seems contrary to this purpose. You might want to think that everyone will join you in the wilderness, or even in the revolution, but the gospel is about joining each other in heaven.
Right now there is work to do, and it’s public, even confrontational. A new asceticism. A new monasticism. A new anarchy. This is not kingdom work. This is just an old way to glorify the flesh, when we are supposed to bear witness to the spirit.
Kingdom work is about putting the candle out where people can see it, even if they are blind. It’s active and faithful, even if we don’t like the soil where we sow.
In the end, getting off the grid is merely an illusion but staying on the path is hard work.