Live in the World, Not of It
Our life and the world as we know it has shown us many trials as of late. Whether you’ve experienced the fires, the global pandemic, natural disasters, or the intense civil unrest, it is my prayer these words I share with you will encourage you and give you hope in the midst of the chaos.
There is so much turmoil around us, and as disciples of Christ, we carry His very presence – His shalom, love, and mercy to every corner of our influence.
The world is watching and waiting for our approval. And I believe that the crossing of wires with this expectation will leave a lot of people disappointed.
Jesus never approved of the worldly behavior of the person in front of him. But He did accept them. And I am afraid that if we confuse the two, we will risk not just living in the world, but also of it.
John 15:19, AMP says, “If you belonged to the world, the world would love [you as] its own and would treat you with affection. But you are not of the world [you no longer belong to it], but I have chosen you out of the world. And because of this, the world hates you.”
I don’t know about you, but this makes my recovering inner people-pleaser a bit uncomfortable.
However, I don’t think this verse is meant to discourage us; instead, it was written for clarity, understanding, and distinction in our role as a believer on this earth. Jesus is setting a boundary for those who walk from the place of the Holy Spirit’s guidance and reminds us that our calling is more than making sure that others like us.
Because the life of Jesus seemed upside down to the world, both within religion and outside of it, the earth misunderstood His message of love and life. Pride overflowed. Misunderstandings were evident. Hatred took root. And yet, Jesus never wavered.
How did Jesus live in the world and not of it?
I think it is important to note here that Jesus was continuously aligned with the Holy Spirit. While He was completely God and completely human, He expressed and taught us the tools needed to live in such a broken world.
The first is that we must take our thoughts captive and renew our minds with His Word (Romans 12:2). Then, as we continue to soak in His presence, study His Word, and commune with Him through prayer, He will transform us as examples of Christ. There is so much confusion and chaos within our world that if we’re not careful with protecting our minds, hearts, and spirits, we could risk getting swept away in it all.
If you read the whole chapter of John 15, you may have noticed verse 17. So small and mighty but is the essence of who Jesus is.
“This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:17 NIV
The Amplified version goes a little more in-depth, saying, “This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another.”
While many thoughts surround John 15:19, more specifically, living in a world that may reject me for being Christ’s disciple, the verse before that sobering truth blows everything I fear right out of the water.
Love and Unselfishly Seek the Best for One Another
As I study the Gospels and the life of Jesus, one common thread is woven throughout; He loved.
Jesus saw the one in front of him. He welcomed the sinner to His table. He stayed with outcasts. He delivered the possessed. He healed those with broken hearts and evil spirits. He communed with those despised. He laughed with the oppressed. He fed the hungry. He encouraged the depressed. He challenged those looking to learn more. He included those that society labeled as lowly. He invited the children to come to Him. He endured the most painful torture and death for the great exchange of our sin for His eternal life.
Yet, He knew full well that the world would reject and hate Him, and Jesus chose love.
Knowing and understanding that the world will dislike you because of Christ isn’t easy to walk out. But we can be assured that as we surrender our wants, desires, and thoughts to Him, He will fill us with His perfect love – the kind of love that forgives, restores, and acknowledges.
“Whoever says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ but does not habitually keep [focused on His precepts and obey] His commandments (teachings), is a liar, and the truth [of the divine word] is not in him. But whoever habitually keeps His word and obeys His precepts [and treasures His message in its entirety], in him the love of God has truly been perfected [it is completed and has reached maturity]. By this we know [for certain] that we are in Him: whoever says he lives in Christ [that is, whoever says he has accepted Him as God and Savior] ought [as a moral obligation] to walk and conduct himself just as He walked and conducted Himself.” 1 John 2:4-6 AMP
Be encouraged, sister. The rejection, ridicule, and mocking will come. However, through our faith in Christ and surrender to His Spirit, He promises to meet us and fill us with His overflow. Our burden is heavy, but His yoke is light.
This week I encourage you to tangibly extend the love of Christ to those hurting in your world. I pray you will take steps to respond with peace, love, and mercy.