Christian Living The Proximity Gospel

The Rule of Affinity

Two men had robbed a bank a few miles away and while being chased by the police made a wrong turn into our neighborhood. Full of canyons and dead ends the robbers got lost, ditched their car, shot at a cop, and ran into backyards a few hundred yards from our house. Soon a police helicopter hovered over our block.

After a little while the sound was aggravating– infuriating even. It shook our house and rattled our nerves. While the police told us to stay inside and away from their barricades everyone was drawn out of their house by the thunderous claps of the helicopters blades.

It stayed like this for 5 hours.

That’s what it took for neighbors to talk. A police barricade. Locked down on a Saturday afternoon and each of us couldn’t stand being in our houses. With no way to escape… we were forced to talk. Names were shared, hands were shaken, houses were pointed to, stories were told, and we all got to know one another a little bit.

The Rule of Affinity is so powerful in our culture that this is what it takes to meet the people who live within 300 yards of my bedroom. Power outages, blizzards, bad storms, earthquakes, and other moments that force us awake from our Affinity stupor reminding us that there are actual people behind those front doors and mailboxes.

The Rule of Affinity is all-powerful. I don’t mean that it’s an axiom or a rule of thumb, I mean that it rules our lives like a king rules his people.

  • Where you work is defined by affinity.
  • Where you worship is defined by affinity.
  • Who you are friends with is defined by affinity.
  • What you do with your free time is defined by affinity.
  • What you eat? Affinity.
  • What you wear? Affinity.

This list never ends because affinity rules our lives. Our affluence affords us choices. And our choices drive us to seek deeper and deeper levels of affinity. We do what we do because we like it and avoid what we don’t like.

Think about it like this: Whenever you have a choice, the Rule of Affinity drives your choice to gather not by proximity but by affinity. 

The internet, especially social media, amplifies this effect. Because you can find community with people just like you online you don’t need proximity. Affinity allows you to consider your best friends to be people you’ve never met face-to-face. You know 500 things about a stranger but nothing about a neighbor. That’s the power of the Rule of Affinity over your life.

And yet, the Rule of Affinity is actually killing your soul. You feel like you’ve found community with people just like you but what you’ve really found is communal loneliness and further isolation.

Affinity is shallow. It’s weak. It’s junk food. It lacks the full flavor and nutritional value of Proximity.  Intellectually, affinity is small. It’s easy. It’s drinking a Coke and calling it a fine vintage. It’s foregoing literature for a grocery aisle romance novel. One result is that we live in a society of psychiatric drugs. We medicate the pain caused by the Rule of Affinity’s malnutrition. Filled with false community and Affinity’s lies about our place in the world we lean on drugs to seek a normal we know nothing of. As we drive toward further and further affinity we gain more and more isolation, our soul starving our soul further, eventually leaving us a rotten core of our true selves.

The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus, challenges us to reject the Rule of Affinity for the realities of Proximity. In the Garden, Satan tempted Eve with affinity… “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) While Adam and Eve had perfect Proximity to God, Satan tempted them with the Rule of Affinity where they could gather with God on their terms.

The Gospel overcomes the Rule of Affinity and re-introduces the Garden’s Proximity into our lives. Jesus’ re-introduction of Proximity looks at the bank robbers face and says, “There’s a better way. You seek something temporary and I offer something permanent and beautiful.

Jesus gutted the Rule of Affinity with His invitation to new way of living,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-39


The Godfather, Scene One

Easily my favorite films.

Right from the first scene you see that the world is controlled by two competing mores.

First, the surface world where law & order seemingly rule in a land where everyone is equal. Second, the underworld which truly defines what law & order means for a certain class of people.

This reveals something we all know: There are rules that apply to everyone and there is another set of rules which appear to not apply to everyone.

Such is the way of the world. Such is the way of the world. Such is the way of the world. 

Christian Living

The Prince’s Posture

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 1:11-13

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:16-17

Do you have a Prince’s Posture?

Christians believe that Jesus’ work gave us access to the King of Kings. Not only do we have access through Christ– We are adopted as children of God.

Adopted children of the King with unlimited access to God. That’s status.

And yet, as I interact with Christians in leadership at their church, and especially as I interact with Christians in the public arena I’m appauled how many of us take a posture of weakness, irrelevancy, and… other postures unworthy of respect or the high calling we have on our lives.

We genuflect to the kings, demigods, and pseudo-powers of our society instead of carrying a prescence and posture of a prince.

A prince would never need to genuflect to a local lord. Nor would he entertain, beyond amusement, the solutions of those who didn’t have access to the knowledge he had.

But that’s the posture many people take in society.

The only thing worse than an arrogant prince is a weak, defeated one

A prince isn’t cocky, he is confident. A prince isn’t intimidated by challenges, he uses his resources to overcome. A prince isn’t lead by fools, he is entertained by them. He isn’t overcome by his insecurities in the public arena, as he knows his King owns the public arena and His Father has the power over the people. Ultimately, the prince isn’t worried worried what people think, because he understands that any power in the room belongs to his Father.

A Prince’s Posture

  • Self-assured
  • Confident
  • Clear-minded
  • Generous
  • Polite
  • Educated
  • Connected
  • A doer of his Father’s business, not a debater of what his Father might want

As we begin a new week, my encouragement for my fellow princes and princesses is to put on the Prince’s posture and put away the insecurities.