Friday, October 3, 2008

"In the world but not of the world." - Christianese

Christians say the darnedest things. If you are a Christian you might have said this; or if you have been around any Christians or gone to a church service in the past 10+ years you have probably heard this: "We are 'in' the world but not 'of' the world." This statement is so often said that many believe that it is scriptural. But this is just some Christianese that really is not biblical. Some may say I am splitting hairs but hear me out.

Now I am not denying the fact that we are "in" this world. I'm not denying the fact that scripture does say that we are "not of the world". What I do deny is the concept taught here is that we live in the world but we should not have fellowship with those in the world. It suggests that those who do not have a relationship with Jesus are horrible people that we, "holier-than-thou", Christians should stay away from. (FYI: this is crap)

There are many scriptures that say that we are not of the world and that we should not be friends with the world. But this type of friendship is meaning to "be like" or "reflecting" it's personality.

"In the world but not of the world" is such a separatist statement. We are in the world to be the salt and the light (Matthew 5) and yes our destiny is heaven. This statement, however, releases me of my responsibility "in" this world. To me this statement is saying, "I am in this world but since I am not of the world I don't need to make an impact on it".

This Christianese statement should be "Not of the world but in the world". This reflects more of what scripture as a whole teaches; "I am not of this world but since I am in the world I'm going to make an impact on it". This makes me responsible to fulfill the Great Commission. Look at what Paul says:

"I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner - not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges." - 1 Corinthians 5:9-12

Paul is saying that if anything we are not to separate ourselves from the people of the world. On contrary, be with them. But if you are to separate yourselves from a person it is to be from the believer who is living like the world.

Pharisees judged Jesus for eating with sinners. I don't think I need to point out who we should emulate. TRUE Christians are not Pharisees. Let's not get caught up in Christianese and forget what the true Word of God says.