In the World, but Not Of the World

“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

Do you ever feel like your friends are telling you one thing and the Bible is telling you another? How about movies, TV, or music? The verse of a popular country song says “Just follow your arrow wherever it points”.

That seems to be the theme these days- “do what is right for you”; “your truth doesn’t apply to me”; and if you try to stick to a standard you risk being called intolerant. What, as Christians, do we do with this? Are these things in line with scripture? The resounding answer is NO.

Romans 12:2 gives us guidance. It says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Later in Romans 12 his word tells us to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. “ (vs 12). God never promised that following him would be easy or popular. Sometimes we may be tempted to think that “times are different” and the “Bible doesn’t apply now”. But there were all kinds of sins and scandals going on when the Bible was written too. God knows that we need examples from the past, and that we need Him as well.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4). And “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13). These are just a few verses that speak to these sorts of questions and concerns. There are so many others, and God’s word will always be true. His words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).

John 15:18-19 reminds us that “if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world. That is why the world hates you.”

The world doesn’t understand that we follow the Lord, not “our own arrow” so to speak. They can’t understand that. Does that mean that we don’t associate with people who believe differently than us? No! We are still to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39). But we are to follow Jesus.

That’s what it means to be IN the world, but not OF it. So the next time you are faced with whether to follow Jesus, or to do what the world wants, remember what his word says. And take heart- he helps us. Jesus says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

When have you had to decide whether to be OF the world or just IN it?

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