If you are like me, you read the first two paragraphs of a blog, and then skim the rest. So, for people like you, here is my two sentence summary. We are not of the world, however we are in it! A very small change, but we need to be fully in the world with the hope of a future spent with Christ!
There are a few verses that all suggest very similar viewpoints, and here they are.
Philippians 3:20a – But our citizenship is in heaven…
John 17:16 – They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
II Corinthians 5:1 – For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
So, as I read these verses, it seems very obvious that this is not our true home. The II Corinthians verse has always been an encouragement to me, knowing that no matter what we are going through, this world is a mere tent compared to the glorious home we all have in heaven.
However, I feel like often times we use these verses as escapes to not be invested into the world. We would rather stay in our Christian bubble, go to church, go to Bible Study, shop at Christian bookstores, listen to Christian music, go to our Christian automechanic, etc… All of these are great things! Support local Christian businesses if that’s your thing. However, that is not my thing, and here is why.
We see a whole different world when we are actually IN the world. Often times we see this world as a place where we are just serving our time and then we will be brought home to live with Jesus forever. The fact is we are IN this world to glorify the Lord! We are supposed to be IN this world to share the Gospel, make disciples of all nations, and it is very hard to do that when our first foot forward is that of a “higher than thou” attitude of “Not of this world”. How about if we switch the phrase? “We are IN this world, but we are not of it”?
IN the world, but it will not last forever so I need to make the most of my time here.
Personally I have still been buying Christian books and such, but I will go to Borders or Barnes and Noble to buy them. Why? Because that way I can walk around and really look at the world I am IN. How am I going to get a clear picture of what our world believes without really truly being IN the world. Let’s take a look at the context for the verses I mentioned above.
Philippians 3:20b&21 – …and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body. As we read Philippians, there is an incredible call to really make the most of our time here and “shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15). When you are a citizen somewhere, you start to have a mindset of the place you are at. However, when you travel, you change your mindset to fit into the culture there.
I just got back from a two week trip to the Northwest, and it was glorious. One thing though, is there driving pattern was completely different. Almost no one drives more than 5 MPH over the speed limit, most people drive at the speed limit or below. I know this shouldn’t be weird to me, but after living in LA for 6 years, the flow of traffic is normally 10-15 MPH over the speed limit. Now, I am a citizen of Orange County, but if I went to Idaho and drove 40 MPH in a 25 (which seems like it would be fine), that would be a huge middle finger to the lovely residents of ID. I do not believe our job as Christians is to rid the world of evil, because that is not possible. That is Jesus’ job when He comes back, we are just supposed to share the good news with people and let Jesus work on their lives. So, as citizens in heaven, we need to have the mindset of knowing where we came from, but also being INvolved in this world and knowing what people believe and think.
John 17: 14&15 – I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. So, sandwiched between Jesus prayer that we are not of this world, he prays that we remain in this world. He says in verse 14 that he has given us His Word so that may know how to live in this world. The world will hate us, but we must continue living in the world, knowing that Jesus has prayed that the evil one may stay away from us. A prayer that we must also continue to echo.
II Corinthians 5:4 – For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened… That sounds fun! Oh wait, Jesus doesn’t say that when we are Christian life will be easy? At times, I think we need to venture out more and really feel burdened by the weight of sin in the world.
Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Before Paul says that we should not be conformed to this world he says that we need to offer our bodies as living sacrifices for it is an act of spiritual worship! In the Christian world, sometimes it seems like we are too much in the world if we are going to the gym, eating super healthy, engaging in higher education, but in fact, it is spiritual worship! Take advantage of the opportunities you have to be in the world, but then in verse two remember, do not be conformed to the world.
I know I do a terrible job of this, but I am trying. Personally, any opportunity I get, I try to choose the “secular” option, because if all we do as Christians is choose the safe Christian option, then who is going to do into the dark places?
How are you IN the world, but not of it? Comment below! Let me know!