Search This Blog

Friday, January 4, 2013

Walking in the World But Not with the World

Maybe I'm a prude.

This morning I am driving to work. The car in front of me is driven by a high school student. I can tell by the "Younglife" sticker on the back and the young age of the driver. There is also a Christian fish symbol and a "Girls Kick Ass" sticker.

Now, I like to have fun. I like to kid around. I even like to prove that Christians are have more joy and fun than anyone else. I have to admit though, I wouldn't put that last sticker on my car. I just don't want to identify with the world that much.

I have noticed that Christians have tried very hard to relate to others. They have tried to be less judgemental. I believe that is good. Judgement is not our place. (I am not even condemning this young lady with the bumper sticker. I don't know her heart. Maybe someone else stuck the sticker on her vehicle. However, I suspect she knew about it but didn't see it as harming her Christian testimony.) However, relating to others doesn't mean that we participate in the things they do when they reflect badly on the testimony we are trying to project.

I may go into a bar, befriend someone and share Christ with them but I won't get drunk with them as I share Christ. I don't have to identify that way. There has to be a difference between me and them or there is no reason for them to come to Christ. He should be seen as making such a profound change in the believers' lives that non-believers would want to know who He is.

The "two people in one body" mentality appears ubiquitous. Many of the people on facebook speak of Christ in glorious ways in a post one day. The next they may say something lewd or put a racy picture up.  They take seriously their responsibility and privilege to imitate Christ on one day but imitate the world the next. Do they see the conflict?

I find people more loyal to the Washington Redskins than to their Lord. They would never say anything that reflects badly on the team they love. Why will they do or say something that diminishes the presence of Christ in them?

Does this mean that a Christian's life is restricted by His faith? Not really. You see, I don't go to certain movies because of their content but I don't follow this as some type of prohibition. I don't attend because I no longer want to. The One who lives in me has changed my life so much that I have changed my lifestyle.

Yesterday, I had to speak to a government official who had assessed a late payment for a bill I never received. She would not relent from making me pay the late fee. I was very stern but I never said a bad word or raised my voice. I believe I stood on the side of what was right but I could not take the position of the world in bullying this lady into releasing this fee. No, she did not know that I was a Christian but that's not the real issue. Christ has made a change in me whether or not anyone knows I am a believer.

Yes, I believe a bumper sticker may appear to be a small thing. Yet, small things have a way of becoming large. The nose of the camel may be all I see in the tent at the moment. The moral of the fable with the camel was that the whole camel will enter the tent if their or no objections to keep it out at any time. The camel needs to be stopped before the nose enters.

I certainly have to make sure I am God-honoring in everything I do. I fail at times too. Yet, those failures are never without impunity. I know when I do the wrong things and my whole world turns upside down. I repent, confess and receive cleansing for my unrighteousness. I just can't walk joyfully with my Lord while walking in the world's ways.

I have to walk in the world but I don't have to walk with the world.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

3 John 1:11 (ESV) 11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.


Anonymous said...

Just a day or two when I pondered about the constant push, of overly grace preachers, of grace and standing, and again tried to appreciate their hitting at the traditional churches' teachings of obedience and good works or serving God, These came to mind:  It is right to acknowledge we are saved by grace, and it is important for us to understand our standings.  Yet, things do not end with our entry into salvation; that is not the end. The constant drilling into people that everything is finished, even to the extreme of saying we are perfect already, does not help people to see the need of us to embrace that there is a living out that follows entry into salvation.  

Entry into salvation is not the end; rather I would find it more correct to regard the entry as a means.  When we made that decision of entering into salvation, it was not just a choice, but a choice with commitment,  along the kind of resolution that Moses posed to the children of God, before the entry into the Promised Land. Deu 30:15-16 has it this way:

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Moses was not calling for a one time or one-off doing or not doing of stuff; it was not "this one time, you love God, and do this or not do this" or "this one time, you walk in His ways, tomorrow you can do what you want, and it would not make any difference". It was that they were to make resolution or commitment to carry themselves as God wanted them to; resolution or commitment is not about a past,  it is always about going forward or the future.

So, it is with our entry into salvation, it is a choice with commitments.  What commitments  are there? Eph 2:10 - we are saved for good works; in other words, we are to do good works. Who does Matt 7:21 said, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven? One who does nothing? No, not even, one who calls Jesus, "Lord, Lord"! Yes, the verse said only he who does the will of God, will enter the kingdom of Heaven. Finally, most importantly is that, we are to be living out the Kingdom life on earth. In other words, we are to live out our life, a Christian life, as prescribed by God in the Word.  There are many texts on this, but just to name a few, there is the Matt 6:33, Seek ye first God's Kingdom and His righteousness. Then, there is the text we looked here, a couple of days ago, Romans 6:10-11, where it said that Jesus, He died to sins, and He lived and lives to God, and in the same way, we are to do the same, die to sins and live to God. Also, there is the "do not stumble another"; Matt 18:6 said that it is better to tie a millstone around the person's neck and he be thrown into the sea than he stumbles another.

Cont. On next page

Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

It is one thing that we are far from being arrived, and so, we still do, from time to time, fall to temptation and sin, but it is another, to be of nonchalant heart attitude of "it does not matter, everything has been taken care, at the Cross, by Jesus", and I simply do whatever, or not do the will of God.  Please, the will of God is not, you and I, to just bask in grace, and do nothing or do anything we like. 

Sure, we need to know our identity in Christ Jesus, and all the various standings, the Word said, we have come into, upon entry into salvation. Again, knowing our identity and standing is not the end, it is that with knowledge of who you are, you are to live out your identity and standing.  A Saviour is not Saviour if he does not save; a doctor is not a doctor if he does not treat the sick; a prince is not a prince if he does not conduct himself in manner befitting that for a prince; and a Christian is not much of a Christian if he does not live out the life prescribed by the Word for the believers.

It is nice to hear grace messages; nice to hear we are saved by grace, and nice to hear we are a child of God, a prince or princess, a citizen of the Kingdom, and that we are with righteous standing, etc, etc, but you have not got it right, if you think that they mean you can just bask in grace, have no need of doing anything or can do anything, or no need of you living right, even as you are of righteous standing. I want to defend the traditional churches, it is not that they do not teach grace (I come from a traditional church); it is they have taught grace AND MORE. Yes, in some ways, traditional churches need to change, but it is not that they should now only teach grace and right standing, and nothing but grace and right standing.

Teachings that concentrated on, it is all God's part and none our part, (this is heavily propagated by the overly grace preachers), they don't help towards producing believers who live out the ways of God.  Do not be deceived, there is NOT, no work to be done.There is almost always a part we have to play, and there is the part that God knows, is His part to play.  

Don't know the will of God for you, and so, don't know what to do? For a starter, consider this: The Apostle Paul, in Phil 4:8-9, told us what to think and what to do; he said to put them into practice, and the God of peace will then be with you.  

What are they, the things that we are to think about and put into practice? Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, that which is excellent or praiseworthy; these things, we are to think about them, and put them into practice - NO excuse to just bask in grace or be idle or simply do whatever you want.  On unacceptable things that we must avoid,  Ps Prentis has already given some of the scripture texts, at the end of his entry.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions