Archive for the ‘in the world but not of it’ Tag

Paradox   2 comments

This is part of a series. Check it out.

A paradox is a true statement that is either contrary to conventional wisdom or is seemingly absurd. They can be a useful tool in teaching because they require careful thought to understand, but most people initially reject a paradox as untrue because it offends their presuppositions. That shows a lack of thinking and I’m all about examining my presuppositions.

Chew on a paradox for a bit and you begin to realize your assumptions are not necessarily correct.

An example of a paradox is that something must die before life can emerge. Well, that sounds absurd. Death is the end of life, so that statement can’t be true.

1 Corinthians 15:36-38 reminds us that a seed must be buried (die) before it can germinate into a plant. Paul uses this paradoxical concept of death preceding life so that Christians might understand that in order to gain eternal life, our mortal bodies must die. Paul reused the concept to describe Christian conversion in Romans 6:3-7 and in Romans 5:18 to explain why God chose to die as Jesus.

The Bible contains many paradoxes and some people find that confusing, but they exist to make us think and learn.

Which brings us to my subject – in the world, but not of it. I ran across an statement on the Internet where someone said “Jesus never said that.” Well, actually, He did. His prayer for his followers in John 17:14-16 was that His followers would not be part of the world. Later, His apostles reiterated this concept (see 1 John 2:15-17, James 4:4, Romans 12:2). We are not to love the world or the things of it. Friendship with the world separates us from God. Christians do not conform our lives to the ways of the world.

But we live in the world and we’re here for a reason. Our exemplar Jesus came into the world of humankind (John 1:10), but He did not become of the world (John 17:14). Rejecting the sinful lifestyle of the world does not mean we reject the sinners trapped in those lifestyle (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).

We live in this world, but Christians cannot let the world influence us.

But so many of us do.

There is a strong trend in churches today to exist in the world and be accepted by the world by adopting the world’s attitudes. Denominations change their doctrines to be more acceptable to the world. Tolerance of sin is now advanced as a virtue. Apologists for this new paradigm twist the Bible and ignore whole passages in order to cozy up to the world.

The Bible foretold this would happen. Stay tuned for the discussion.

 

 

How Do You Know the Difference?   1 comment

This is part of a series. Check it out.

So have we cuddled up the world so tight that we no longer see a difference between Christianity and the world. Do we think there should be a difference?

Well, Jesus certainly thought there should be and it wasn’t based on some phony concept of love your neighbor (although that was part of it) or turn the other cheek (that was part of it too). His words, recorded by His followers and then given cultural context after His death echo down to us through the centuries.

How do we tell the difference between real Christianity and syncretic phony love of the world?

It has to happen, as does salvation, on an individual level, but we can cast light from our own experience to help others. Ask yourself a few questions to evaluate whether you love the world or love God.

  • Which do you seek more fervently — the wealth and honors of the world or the riches of grace and the approval of God?
  • Which has a great attraction for you — the pleasures of the world, which are only for a season, or those pleasures offered by God, which are for eternity?
  • Where does your confidence lay — in the money you have in your bank account or investments, or in the living and faithful God, Who has promised to supply all your needs?
  • Which causes deeper sorrow for you – a temporal loss or a break in your fellowship with God?
  • Do you get more joy from spending money for personal comforts and luxuries or spending money to further the gospel?
  • What takes center stage in your mind — thoughts and schemes after worldly advancements or resolutions and efforts to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord?

It comes down to a basic choice.

Will you love the Father or love the world?

Most of Christians have made that choice, but we need to maintain it. Do not yield to the temptations of the world, but do the will of God … even when it is inconvenient, even when your neighbors don’t understand, even when your government threatens to ruin your life if you obey God rather than man.

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