Recent Scripture readings in the New Testament books of James and 1 John got me thinking about the phrase that I think most Christians have heard in one form or another: We are to be in the world, but not of the world. It’s a subject that I think that each Christian should examine. Take a few minutes to take stock of where you stand in the world. Can you say that you are in the world, but not of the world?
Here’s some questions to ask yourself:
Is the environment in which you are in changing the way that you think?
Are your thoughts about moral/social issues changing in a way that does not agree with God’s Word?
Do you find yourself making statements that disagree with God’s Word because of the group setting that you are in?
Are your behaviors consistent with godly principles?
When you look back, can you see how God’s molded you to resemble more of Jesus?
Does the way that you live your life point others to the light of Christ?
Satan is constantly, and patiently working on this world, changing opinions and morals to more suit his liking. Satan, and society, adeptly twists the truth, God’s truth, ever so subtly over time, interjecting small little caveats until they become the accepted popular belief. He’s a master at manipulation. But, one little subtle change to the truth is not enough. Then comes another adjustment to the truth and over time that adjustment becomes the accepted popular belief. After a span of time, what started out as truth, moves to mostly true, to partly true, and finally moves to something that doesn’t represent God’s truth at all. It seems to me that’s how it works. Satan parades as an angel of light, and can cleverly fool even seasoned Christians. It’s happened to me, and I venture to say that it’s probably happened to you also.
Billy Graham, in a 1968 message, said that “This cosmos (the world system, which is headed by Satan and based upon self, greed and pride) has its own entertainment and diversions that so permeate the atmosphere that it makes the way of the cross seem antiquated and irrelevant. In much of the entertainment media fostered by the cosmos, the name of God is profaned, sex is glamorized, and high, ethical living and Christian moral standards are laughed at.” Does this sound like today’s world? I think so, only now we have even more social/moral dynamic pressures introduced than what Billy Graham mentioned in 1968, dynamics that society didn’t accept back in 1968. And, society is pressuring Christians like never before to accept the new norms, the anti-Biblical norms, to the point where it seems increasing hostile.
I think that we Christians are hearing a lot more negative words (sometimes vehemently stated) like intolerant, judgmental, narrow-minded, hypocrites, etc used to describe us and our beliefs. The problem with these words for us Christians is, when you really stop to examine them, we all can be guilty of each of those words to a small, or large degree from time to time. We all are flawed, whether we have Christ in our lives or not. We all make mistakes. We all say one thing and then we do another. We all make judgments. We all are intolerant over certain things.
As Christians, we are called to love one another, we are called to serve, we are called to become more like Jesus, we are called to reflect the light and love of Christ. We are called to a higher standard. So the order of being in the world, but not of the world is indeed something with which to grapple. It’s caused a significant amount of self examination on my part within the past week or so. But, this is not something that we can do on our own, I know for certain that I can’t. I cannot walk in this world effectively as a Christian if I am not constantly tethered to God. I need the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I need to be in God’s Word, ingesting it, so that I can aptly discern what things of this world I need to avoid or shed. I need to be examining my motives and my actions to understand whether I am rightly reflecting God’s love.
And, I know this, I will fail time and time again. I will lose my focus, and I will get wrapped up in the things of this world. But, through the Grace of God, I can pick myself up, confess my failures and my sins to my Savior, and start over. And, I’ll keep doing that just as often as I need to.
How about you? Are you in the world, but not of the world?
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15, ESV)
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19, ESV)
“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. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14-16, ESV)
“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.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4, ESV)
Believing God, trusting God, adoring God, walking with God, growing with God, confessing to God, talking with God, listening to God, learning with God – it’s the Heart of the Journey ❤️