In This World, But Not of This World

Apr 16, 2018

[based on Romans 12:2]

To live in the world and not be of the world is not something we can claim because we believe in Jesus Christ. It is a step-by-step dismantling of the world’s influence in our lives. It is taking the bias of the world out of our own thinking. It is giving up all our assumptions, preferences, expectations and our own will in favor of being loving, and forgiving–as like Christ as we can possibly be while we’re still in this human form. As we lay aside these worldly ways of thinking, we are offering up to God all these biases, the ways the world thinks, the things our culture assumes, our family’s preferences and view-point, the oh-so-human ego’s take on everything. It is not a simple thing to be in this world, but not of this world.

It means we no longer judge anyone. We may still notice the differences among us, but those differences become interesting, not an occasion for distancing ourselves from others. We no longer feel bad about our lives. We no longer crave what other people have that we don’t.  We no longer take anything personally, as if things said or done to us were done against us personally. We rest in peace, in gratitude for our lives, for our companions along the way, for the gifts and talents we’ve been given, for the purpose of our lives, for the enormous gift of the presence of God.

It means that our own selves are no longer the reference point for everything. We have grown into thinking like God thinks, in being like He is, in losing our worldly references.

Jesus said, “Let those who can see, see, and those who can hear, hear.”  [Matthew 11:15 & 12:9, Mark 4:9, Luke 14:35] He means that we must see as God sees and hear as God hears, otherwise we water down the truth, we do only what is comfortable for us to do; we do only the minimum we think is required.

The cross is such a beautiful and telling symbol of Jesus. He had to die on the cross, just as we have to die to our own narrow viewpoint which is highly conditioned by the world. It was an enormously painful death for him. For us letting go of what we are attached to is painful for us. It takes an enormous amount of trust in God. But without Jesus’ death on the cross there would have been no new life, resurrection. And so it is with us. It is painful to let go of all that we have held dear, all that we were conditioned to believe. Without the death of all that is worldly in us, there is no resurrection, no new life for us in Christ. We are still in this world and of this world.

So what is the process for leaving behind all our conditioning, all that the world holds to be true and then embracing all that is the truth? It is listening to God’s wisdom as revealed to us in the Bible and by His “still, small voice” within our own thoughts and following His wisdom, {1 Kings 19:12] It is our willingness to let go of what we were taught and conditioned to do that leads us to be able to hear and to see what God is showing us. We have to have a certain stillness within us, an ability to set aside our own thinking, or to tamp it down, to be able to hear His wisdom within us.

The more we listen to and follow that voice, the more confidence we develop in it as we see the benefits to us in following His wisdom, the more freedom we feel from having to follow the world’s assumptions and expectations, the more trust we develop in God’s providence for us. And, we begin to act from God’s own wisdom, from our own true selves, as we were created to be.

And there we not only feel freedom from the world’s obligations and expectations, but tons of joy as we do what we were created to do using our own talents and gifts and the lessons we have learned from our own pain and suffering. As we have moved from the materialism of the world into the joy of the kingdom, we feel more and more drawn into God’s circle, His reign, His kingdom. And there we find our own true home. There’s a place for us, as well as for everyone else who opts to live this way. And so we lay all our worldly burdens down and live as we were created to live.

Questions to ponder over the week: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being consumed by the world and 10 being not at all of the world at all, how would I rate my ability to be in this world, but not of the world? What practices and prayers do I use to see my own issues clearly and to connect to Christ in my life? How well do I hear His “still, small voice” within? How grateful am I for the life, purpose, companions along the way that I’ve been given?

Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are in this world, but not of this world. May we fulfill our purpose here. May we be devoted to God and to  God’s vision for our lives.

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