What does it mean to be “in” the world and not “of” it? - Culture - TouchPoints

What does it mean to be “in” the world and not “of” it?

2 Kings 17:8They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced.

The people of Israel were given laws and rules to set them apart from the surrounding pagan cultures. Instead of influencing the cultures around them for God, they were influenced by them to go against God. As a Christian, you should be aware of your culture and the practices that are not godly. Determine to stand upright and be a godly influence on your culture, rather than let it influence you.

Romans 14:14-19I know and am perfectly sure on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, its wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be condemned for doing something you know is right. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

Romans 14:20-23Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. But it is wrong to eat anything if it makes another person stumble . . . You may have the faith to believe that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God . . . if people have doubts about whether they should eat something, they shouldn’t eat it . . . If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

In Paul’s day, there was a debate among believers as to whether it was acceptable to eat meat from animals that had been sacrificed to idols. Although Paul and the non-Jewish believers thought it was acceptable, they agreed not to eat the meat because they knew it would be offensive to the Jewish people and make it difficult for them to share the Good News about Jesus. Paul’s point is that many things of this earth—certain kinds of food and drink and certain customs—are not inherently wrong in and of themselves. It’s what you choose to do with these things that can become right or wrong. Nuclear energy isn’t inherently wrong. It can be used to power homes and provide light but it can also be used to build bombs. Wine isn’t inherently wrong, but it can be used to become drunk. Being in the world but not of it means to claim certain things for Christ and use them, not as the world would, but in a way that serves others and brings glory to God.

Psalm 8:6-9You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority— the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents. O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

1 Corinthians 3:21So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you—

Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

People who don’t believe in Christ are in the world and become chained to the things their culture says offer security. They are of the world because they know no purpose and see no future after this life, so the culture is all they’ve got. They live only off the messages and values taught by the culture because that is the highest authority they know. Believers in Christ live in culture like everyone else, but they are not enslaved by it because they are able to see that culture offers a false promise of security. That is why believers in Christ are not of the culture, for they know that life on earth is just a tiny part of eternal living. They are not enslaved by their culture because their belief in Christ gives eternal value to their actions and not their possessions. They are free to use all that God has given them to influence the culture and to invest their lives for the future, not the present.

John 17:15-16I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth . . . Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.

Matthew 5:14-16You are the light of the world—like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to

There are two equal but opposite dangers concerning the believer’s attitude toward the world: full acceptance of the culture and its ways, or complete rejection of the culture. Jesus teaches several principles about the culture: (1) God loves the world and sent his Son to redeem those who believe (John 3:16); (2) the world hates Jesus and therefore hates Jesus’ followers (John 15:18); (3) the world is a place of trouble and tribulation, not only because of the normal trials of life, but because of the intentional persecution of Jesus’ followers (John 16:33). So Jesus’ followers have a complex relationship with the culture as a place of mission and a place of danger. Either absorption by the culture or isolation from the culture would violate Jesus’ intention for you. You are to learn to live in the world and enjoy the good things of God’s creation (1 Timothy 4:4) without being controlled by your desires or compromised by the world’s pressures (1 John 2:15-17). You also learn to see the world continually as your mission field.