Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The World Versus Christianity

"I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world." (John 17:14)

The Christian has three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Today we need to think about the first of these. In the New Testament, the word 'world' is used sometimes simply to refer to the earth as opposed to heaven. In this sense, there is nothing bad about the world. The New Testament also, however, uses 'world' in a moral sense. We see this in John 17:14, where Jesus tells the Father that the “world” hates believers. The world is that sphere, or group of people, that has no affection for the things of God. The world, in this sense, exists in tension against the kingdom of God.

Jesus goes on to say, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the Evil One” (John 17:15). It is most important to realize that Jesus does not call us to segregate ourselves from the present evil age. This has been a continuing problem in the history of the church, as some Christians have made it a policy to separate themselves from anything that in the least smacks of worldliness.

One of the doctrines that emerged among the Pharisees was the doctrine of salvation by segregation. For this reason, the Pharisees were incensed when Jesus “defiled” Himself by spending time with publicans and sinners. They failed to realize that the world is the arena in which God is working to save sinners. Christians must be involved with the people of the world in order to reach them.

How do we do this? By being in the world but not of it. Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The Christian is to work in the world, but without sin.

What does the term “keep your distance” mean with reference to the Christian and the world? Have you found that line which marks the boundary of how “near” you ought to come to the world, and yet is not so far away as to become separatists? As we mature in Christ we should be able more and more to invade the world with the transforming Good News of the kingdom. “Frontline ministry” should be the ultimate goal of each believer.