In It Not Of It

Posted: August 6, 2012 in Spiritual Growth
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Home school, urban flight, boycotts, censorship, communal living, Christian music, Christian schools. These are some examples of many Christians’ attempts to follow Jesus’ admonishment to be “in the world but not of it.” As a member of American Christian culture, I have thought a lot about what it really means to be in the world but not of it. Nothing would be easier for me than to separate myself completely from the world and live in a little Christian bubble. After all, what can we possibly have in common with the unbelieving world? They don’t get us or tolerate our convictions. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to live free of it?

I am reminded of a parable Jesus tells about the wheat and the tares. It further illustrates his principle of being truly in the world but not of it. In the story he says that we should not try to separate the wheat from the weeds, but that we should let them grow side by side, all mixed in until the day of reckoning. Some of us would rather just have our neat little wheat fields and pluck out all the weeds right now.

I am not saying that all of the attempts at holiness I mentioned above are inherently wrong. I participate in some of these myself. But in all these things, I want to caution Christians to make their choices for the right reasons according to their Holy Spirit driven convictions, rather than from knee-jerk reactions of fear. There are people in the world who rightly judge our actions as being more fearful than faith-filled. We are afraid of dealing with uncomfortable subjects with our children such as those that involve sex, violence, or the ugly sinfulness of mankind. We have been trained to close our eyes and ears rather than to be able to face evil head on and come out victorious on the other side. Those who live in darkness have reason to be afraid, not those who live in the light.

When I look into the book of Daniel, I see some great examples of what I believe it means to be in the world but not of it. Daniel and his friends were willing to attend what basically amounted to sorcery training school. But instead of practicing sorcery, they practiced prophecy. They put up with being given new names and being called people with whom “the spirit of the holy gods” resides. The system was hopelessly flawed and the kings they served were foolish. A few things set Daniel and his friends apart from the rest. First of all, they tapped into the power and wisdom of God. This gave them a supernatural cutting edge above their peers. Secondly, and related to the first, is the fact that they were excellent at what they did. They were some of the smartest, strongest, and most enlightened men of the kingdom. No doubt the Spirit of God made it possible to achieve such excellence. Thirdly, they stuck to their convictions. They knew how to draw the line between what was merely irritating (possibly being called by pagan names) and what violated their convictions (eating and drinking forbidden food and bowing down to idols).

Today some of us can get so caught up in how we appear to other Christians that we forget about how we are affecting our world. In our businesses, in our schools and governments, believers should stand out as the cream of the crop. After all, we have the Spirit of Wisdom, the Spirit of Creativity, and the Spirit of Power at work within us. We can be the “saviors” of our business, governments, and other organizations. Notice that Daniel and his friends were sorely misunderstood, but when a crisis came, who did they call? Daniel. Daniel had a proven track record of accuracy in his work. He could be depended upon. Also Daniel was faithful and true to his king, regardless of how dumb the king acted. The king could depend on him to tell the truth at all costs and to act in the best interests of the kingdom. As soon as Christians develop an “us vs. them” mentality we put a cap on our love. The world may do it to us, but let us not be guilty of doing it back. The other magicians were intensely jealous and tried to get Daniel killed, but Daniel spoke to the king to help assuage his anger to prevent him from killing them.

I am not asking everyone to jump into the world with both feet and get dragged down in its current, but I would ask you to examine where you draw the line in the sand and why. Are you doing it out of fear and comfort or are you doing it because you have a conviction from God that this is the place to draw that line? How can you be a Daniel in the sphere God has given you?

  1. Angie Carter says:

    This is the best thing I have read in quite some time. I love it.

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