Friday, February 7, 2014

People are strange...

John 15:18-19  "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you."

You don't have to wait very long or listen very closely before you hear people (often those who claim to be Christians) wailing about how the world mistreats them.  They carry on in pure disbelief that this world does not operate as they think it should, as the Bible says it should, etc.  "How can we have strayed so far from the Christian principles this country was founded on?"  Ever heard that one?  Or how about this one: "I can't believe what this country is coming to..."  Rarely are these utterances followed up by any action to counteract this disbelief.

For those who live in such disbelief, I would suggest a re-reading of John 15.  Jesus told us roughly 2,000 years ago that those who belong to God and follows His principles will be at odds with the world.  This should not be news to us.  Jesus faced opposition from the world to a higher degree than we will ever know.  Did He walk around all day muttering to Himself about how He couldn't believe how misguided the world is?  No.  He knew this coming in.  In fact, it's why He came in at all.

We live in a fallen world.  It doesn't work the way it was designed to.  It never will.  It makes no difference who the president is, who your pastor is, where you work, or what you do.  It is broken.  We can't go back and undo the Fall.  It is what it is, and it is no different than what Jesus told us.

If we accept this reality, the question becomes "what do we do in light of this truth?"  It seems to me there are two choices: isolation or engagement.  Too many people, in my opinion, choose the former rather than the latter.  Christians latch onto Jesus' words about having chosen us out of the world as an excuse to wall ourselves off in little bubble communities where we don't get the world's dirt on our clothes.  We hole up at church, at private school, in Bible study, at fellowship, and on and on.  We don't associate with "dirty" people.  God forbid they stain our lilly white selves.  Please.

Read a little further in John, and Jesus addresses this before we even ask Him the question.  In Jesus' final prayer for us prior to His arrest, He says the following:

"My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one...As You have sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world." (John 17:15;18)

Isolation from the world is the wrong answer.  We achieve no good purpose in isolation.  We are commanded to engage in our world and to make an impact for Christ.  Isolation is a selfish and idolatrous response to the world.  It says that protection of ourselves is our primary goal, and that our goals (not God's commands) are what we are most interested in accomplishing.

Here is a great blog post on what it truly means to be in the world, but not of the world: Let's Revise the Popular Phrase "In, but Not of"

Are you isolating yourself or are you engaging to make an impact on the world?