How to be in, but not of the world.
I know. It sounded like I was going to provide a step by step tutorial about how to both live in the world and yet live in God’s kingdom. Sadly, I’m just not that spiritual yet. However, I do enjoy slamming out blogs of things that I’m working through in my own life.
This week, I encountered and interesting situation. Someone had taken the words of a Bible teacher, believed them, and then acted on them immediately. For this, the person is to be praised, however, with every nugget of God’s truth and revelation comes the need to seek His divine balance. Divine balance? That sounds like a great marketing tagline… but I digress.
The most obvious example is when Jesus instructed his disciples to cut off their body parts if those body parts cause them to sin. Everyone knows our body parts cause us to sin so if they really believed his words and took action on them, there would have been a bloody mess on the ground. In a sense, Jesus was correct in that it would have been better to be a bloody pulpy mess on the ground rather than go to hell forever, but He also was standing before them as the Grand Solution to the sin problem. The balance is to know that the power of God that Jesus allows us access to is greater than the power of the flesh if we believe. In other words, there is no need to chop off your extremities and leave them for the fowl of the air if bow your head in humility and trust God for the power to overcome temptation. This paragraph went way too long…
In this specific issue, the teacher was preaching on the final judgement of God and the end of the world, and, of course, the soon coming of Jesus. This person was impacted by the Word of God and was instantly changed. I’m assuming that she started looking around the world and saw what the writer of Ecclesiastes saw – that everything in this earth is vanity and worthless. I imagine that in her heart she started to question whether her pursuit of education and dreams were worth it. I imagine that deep in her heart she started questioning whether or not she was even on the right path with God or heading down some path created by someone else. I imagine that she was in a state of deep sorrow, confusion, and possibly even depression. Why do I imagine this? Because I, too, was in this state.
When I came to the saving knowledge of Jesus the Christ, I was very despondent when I realized that no one else around me could see the light. I just assumed that if I shared the revelation that God just gave me that they would see, repent, and follow me on this most excellent adventure (that was an 80’s reference btw for you young lads). But they didn’t. In fact, I became as it were an alien to them. A nut bar. A religious fanatic. A cult victim… you name it. They did not see the light.
And man was I lonely.
However, looking back, I am so glad that I went through that. It confirmed so many scriptures, namely that Jesus didn’t come to bring peace but a sword and that He came to divide a home, not unify it. In essence, it yet again proved the Word of God to be ever true.
So, this person decided, I suppose, that there was no point in continuing her education and that she should just take my earthquake preparedness (I always preach that but never do it myself, sadly) advice and just sit back and wait for the soon-coming of Jesus. I commend her faith but unfortunately that is not a biblical position. It is lacking in balance. Here is the balance:
Matthew 24: 36-42:
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two [women shall be] grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
You see, they were working like normal when Jesus came back. For students, you will be going to school – perhaps in the most boring class of your life – perhaps gazing out the window – when the Lord shall come and retrieve you.
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.
You see, there is no avoiding our nasty toil, whether it be labour in the field, power-washing the cement, reviewing contracts or sitting in the most awful class in the education system. We must work and sweat while working because of the nastiness of the work. We’re made and designed to do it until the end of the ages. Sadly, the proverbial buttercup must suck it up. There are lots of other scriptures in the Bible about working with good work ethic if you want.
So, we are to live in this secular world (which hates God).
While living here, we are to work hard and be model citizens in the societies where God has planted us.
The whole time we are living in this world we are not to ‘reside’ or ‘stay’ or ‘build our kingdom’ in the world because we are not from this world. We are from another kingdom – the kingdom of light. God’s kingdom.
And so we must always find the balance between that temptation to bunker down with our assault rifle and await the certain persecutions against the brothers and sisters and living like sheep amongst wolves in this corrupt world while we await the New Jerusalem.
Thankfully the Word of God, if you read it all, will always, always, always, give you that much needed balance so get in the Word and ask God to show you the Way.