Tuesday, August 16, 2016
In - not of - the world
“In it, not of it”… These words, more than any other, capture the Christian’s attitude to this world. But there are two unfortunate errors, one from each side of the statement, that can result if we do not properly understand the statement. Since we are not ‘of’ the world, we pretend that what we do here in the world has no eternal consequence. St. Paul would be appalled to see that we let ourselves detach so easily. When we simply live in the world with no regard to the consequences of our actions, we might display a disregard for truth and acting in accord with it. We live in the world just like those who do not know the Lord live. We join in sin, and perhaps even condone it. We might fool ourselves to think that whatever we do doesn’t matter at all. In the extremes of this side of the error, we live our lives aware of Christ, but delude ourselves to think that we can live like all others in the world, as long as we are apart from it. In other words, we might even deny Christ by our worldly actions. On the other side, it is tempting to allow sin to prevail, for wrongs to be left uncorrected and for lies to stand, and justify it by saying that we are more. After all, we are not of this world, but made for eternity. We become so heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly good, to quote an old expression. We rightly live for Christ, but we fail to really heed His call to bring His message to the ends of the earth. As Christians, we are living in the world and and using the things that surround us, but we know that we belong somewhere else, to a world that is not here. Our world is our eternal destination - Heaven, life with God. Our hearts are to be there, even now.As Christians, we are called to be in the world, and as such called to be leaven and salt - we are called to raise the world and to give it flavor. We are in the world! But we are not transformed by the world, but the world is to be transformed by us. That is why we as Christians need to step forward and boldly proclaim the truth. That is why we as Christians need to affirm the reality of sin and to seek God’s will and avoid sin. That is why we need to use the things of the world, lived in right relationship to them as transitory and passing things, to lead others to Christ. That is why we as Christians are called to take part in politics. It is not that we are imposing our beliefs on others, but that as Christians, the truth of God has been revealed to us. It is a truth not just for us, but for all. It is a truth that will set us free. This year, especially in the area of politics and race relationships, the world needs our insight, our love, our proclamation of truth. We cannot live in this world oblivious to the consequences or completely detached from it. Rather, we place our hope in God, and change the world for the better, one person at a time.