Aug 2 2020 How to Be IN the World, but not OF it
2nd August 2020
We are to be IN the world, but not OF the world. Jesus talks about this in John 17. This means that we are to be fully engaged in most aspects of our culture: socially, relationally, economically, nationally, politically – but we are to do this in a way that we do not conform to those aspects of our culture which are negative and improper. Last week we talked a bit about how not to be OF the world. This week, we will look at the hows and whys to be IN the world.
Thank You for Your word and that You love us. We are Your children forgiven and beloved by You because You died on the cross for our sins – and You were raised from the dead to a new life that we share with You. We will be like You when You return. Thank You that we will have an intimacy with You that we cannot even imagine. It will be so much greater than we could ever think. We look forward to that day. Thank You for Your love. In Your name we pray.
How to be in the World, but not OF the World…
We’ll focus primarily on the Sermon on the Mount – the words of Jesus.
Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
In our world – salt is abundant and cheap – not so in the ancient world. It had two functions – as a preservative and as a flavor enhancer. In this context – it is a preservative – to preserve the earth. They would take salt and rub it into the meat, and it would break the outer layer. You can search YouTube for how salt preserves meat – and you’d be amazed at the results you get.
This is a metaphor for our Christian witness – He is using this to explain what our witness should look like. In our context – we are to be salt – in our circles of influence – those people we engage with on a regular basis. This could be work – or your neighborhood. Some people’s circles are large – some are smaller – but that is irrelevant – what matters, are you salt within your circle of influence?
Salt is also an outside agent. It is not of the meat. It is foreign and alien to the meat – In the same way – in Jesus’ metaphor, we are to be strangers to the world – not of the world – entering in as aliens into the world, yet, we are to be fully engaged in the world in such a way, by being engaged in the world – that we can transform those in our world. Transform the world around us.
The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus…
The Christians inhabiting the Greek and Barbaric cities. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners – we would say, they are immigrants in the land of their birth! Do you think of yourself that way? You should! That is the Biblical way to think! I am an immigrant in America!
As citizens, they share all things with others, and yet endure all things as foreigners.
Do you view yourself as a foreigner in your neighborhood? In your city? In your nation? You really are – because you belong to an entirely different nation. We are citizens first and foremost, of an entirely different place – citizens of heaven.
Every foreign land is to them as their native country. Wow! As foreigners, aliens, immigrants to all the earth – once we get that view – our true identity – our true nationality – then we can engage in any situation as if we belong – comfortable in any nation because we understand who we really are and where we really belong.
And every land of their birth as a land of strangers. That’s a lot to take in, I’ll leave that there!
Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
You can’t see the salt, but you can taste and see its effects.
Now He comes to LIGHT – it is a very public thing. A city on a hill does not want to be hidden – it wants to be seen – an imposing thing over all the land – so people can look on it and be impressed – so it can be seen.
He is talking about our public, recognizable impact on the world. Light reveals reality – the way things are. As a metaphor, as lights, we reveal the truth of the gospel and the reality of Jesus Christ.
He is calling us to be out front and public about our faith.
With salt, He is talking about infiltrating so as to preserve –
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Live your life in such a way to point people to God. The gospel. Jesus Christ.
We perform the gospel – we live it out so that we may have the opportunity to proclaim the gospel – we must have both taking place in our witness. If you just have one without the other – it will have a negative impact.
In these simple little verses – with songs written about them – we often don’t think about the context – what Jesus has just said before this. This is the context of difficulty and persecution that followers of Jesus will face. When you are in difficult times – suffering, persecution – in those times you have a unique opportunity to be salt and light – to do good deeds and to point to Jesus.
Right before this He talks about loving your enemy and responding to insults and oppression.
In this context – it is really tied to being under opposition – people being opposed to your faith. We live in an antagonistic world – as did Jesus – if you are asked to carry it one mile – Carry it two!
When someone slaps you on the cheek – what do we do to be light and salt? Turn the other cheek!
When someone insults you – you bless
When someone opposes you – you pray for them.
What if every Christian lived this?! Mile? No, I’ll carry it two!
That is what Jesus is asking us to do.
With all the cultural issues at this moment – how am I doing here – with this issue – am I carrying two miles? Am I blessing when I am cursed? Am I turning the other cheek?
We live in this world of insult and antagonism. That is our world. We must understand and be aware that there are aspects of culture that have a gravitational pull on our lives. There are some obvious ones – sexual immorality – that is obvious – but this context of culture on our lives is not as obvious – we must not be of this world – we must not be antagonistic.
The church is to critique culture in those ways that culture contradicts the gospel – and in the Sermon on the Mount – He laid it out there.
How do we do this? By embodying – living out in our bodies – so it is not just what we say, but how we live – that presents something that is totally foreign to what is going on around us. Is the way we live out in our bodies presenting something that is alien to what is going on around us? That is what will challenge our culture
Our tendency as humans is to respond in kind – an eye for an eye – and Jesus was clear – let’s remove that from your dictionary – because I have a better way – love your enemy – carry two miles – don’t retaliate – just think of the arguments in our world – sometimes they are about the silliest little things! If you simply don’t respond in kind but give a blessing….
So – how do we embody and live out this alternative practically?
First – Romans12:1
Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice– alive, holy, and pleasing to God– which is your reasonable service. 2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
Do not be of the world – in, but not of.
How do we do this? Verse 1 – I exhort YOU (Tim Mackey – our language is either singular or plural – but in Texas, you have the word, Y’ALL - ) -= Therefore, I exhort all y’all – to present all y’all’s bodies as a singular sacrifice!
The first way we live as light and salt is doing it as a community.
Our focus is on the individual – but first – it is living as light and salt as a community , but as a singular sacrifice. I think we live in a time – in the time of my Christian walk – the church is more divided now than ever – I don’t have statistics on that – but I think – here are some reasons this is happening – especially in Christianity in the West. If you are in another place where Christians are being persecuted, they are all united.
I think we have similar views on style and nonessential theology – rather than on performing and proclaiming the gospel. That should be our source of unity. There are many who believe the same things theologically, but there is no unity, because the unity is focused on the wrong thing.
Other communities have risen to the level of Church Community.
The church is our first people – our primary identity is people of Jesus, Children of God. That is our identity – but other identities have risen to that level in people’s minds – political, sexual, national, - these things rise to the level of identity as People of God.
Promise Keepers did a great job with racial issues. I remember them saying you are closer to a black brother who is a Christian than to your own brother who is not!
You are closer to your biggest enemy nation’s Christian, than you are to someone in your own country who is not a Christian.
Political Correctness is despised by many – but there is something called Church Correctness – don’t step outside the lines! It creates division in the church! Just like political correctness creates division in a country.
For unity to be regained in the church – we must – not just us as a Church, but THE Church, we must discover ways to address critical issues of our day in ways that Jesus would have addressed them – and that is really hard, as there is not one verse.
We could all say, racism is unbiblical – what are the best political, social, and cultural solutions? The Bible doesn’t give an outline for that – it just takes hard work, humility and grace! That is not an outline.
I want to close with one final thing – and I believe this might be the first issue to address. It is not the hardest one to address! It is the easiest for us to address.
We live in a world of antagonism – and it appears in speech – so I will share these verses with very little commentary:
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone. (Col. 4:6 NET)
When was the last time you watched a debate and thought – WOW! Those people were SO GRACIOUS TO EACH OTHER! Probably never!
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Pro. 15:1 TNIV)
If we just got that – think how much better your marriage would be?! AT work – how much better things would be!
31 You must put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk. 32 Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. (Eph. 4:31)
Put away every kind…