They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (John 17:16)
There are two common errors when it comes to understanding the role of the church in the world today. One error is to be believe that Christians should be so insulated from the unbelieving world that we make no impact for the glory of our King. The other error is to become so saturated in the unbelieving world that we make no impact for the glory of our King.
The key to avoiding both these errors is to understand that we are in the world, but not of the world, and we are called to make a difference in this world by being different from this world. We are to make contact and deep connection with unbelievers in the world around us, but we are in no way to copy the behavior and customs of this world. Read on and be encouraged!
In order to encourage sinners (that is, people just like us) to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we must make contact with them and connect with them the deep truths of the Gospel, but we are never to embrace the sinner’s sin in order to fulfill our mission in this world. As Peter said, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12).
To be sure, there is great tension produced by living in a world that is hostile to God, but we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to live in such a way that our good deeds do indeed glorify God. Make no mistake, when we live this way, some will accuse, but some will also advance in the direction of the Almighty. We make God attractive to the watching world when we live in a way that is pleasing to Him . . . when we become “the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15) to the people around us.
Here is perhaps the best way of looking at being in the world but not of the world: Our physical location right now is in this world, a world that for the most part lives in defiant opposition to the biblical worldview. The unbelieving world does not not acknowledge God as God or thank Him for the many blessings we receive from His hand. The vast majority of unbelievers have a man-centered worldview which is of this world, and we are not to follow it in any way. We must guard against allowing any man-centered thinking to seep in and saturate our biblical worldview through the movies and shows we watch and the music we listen to. As disciples of Christ, we are to put the biblical worldview on display for the world around us with both our lips and our lives; when we do, we can be assured that God will supply the increase.
Remember, make contact with everyone you can and work to establish some kind of friendship connection, but make sure you don’t copy them! You will be an eternal difference-maker by being different . . . because of the One you love and serve: the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!