THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD
“But this counter-cultural message is Good News from millions who listen to it. The Kingdom Jesus brings is not like any kingdom of this world. It is not violent; it is not selfish; it is not sexualized, decadent, greedy, predatory, arrogant, or dishonest. Human kingdoms always combine elements of such vices to keep and enjoy their power. As Augustine explains, “What are kingdoms but large dens of thieves, and what are dens of thieves but small kingdoms?” He tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great. The Emperor angrily demands of him, “How dare you molest the seas?” To which the pirate replied, “How dare you molest the whole world?” Because I do it with a small boat, I am called a pirate and a thief. You, with a great navy, molest the world and are called the emperor.”
We belong to a kingdom that will not yield to corruption. We belong to another world.”
David M. Young, New Day – Restoring the Revolutionary Mission of Christ’s Church, New Day Press, North Boulevard Church of Christ, cd 2016, P 234
The church today, in many situations, has become more like the world, rather than striving to be like Jesus and be a part of his Kingdom. His Kingdom is not of this world. His Kingdom should be teaching the truth in love and encouraging people to become Christians. That is our mission! (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). The first century church did their best to share the gospel to the whole world (Colossians 1:23; Romans 10:16-18; Romans 16:25-26), and they turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6)
There are numerous Scripture references that teaches that the church should not be of the world. We should not think like the world, nor act like the world. Consider the fact that we are to do what we can to help others to be saved from the world and it’s errors and lies (which come from Satan himself). Satan’s power has been broken – we are on the Lord’s side.
On the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 Peter declared, “And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” Peter said that was a crooked generation – not much has changed, has it?
Before the events of Acts 2, Jesus told his disciples that they were not of the world. Notice his points in John 15:19-20, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
Again, notice what Jesus says about his Kingdom as he stands before Pilate in John 18:36-38, “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (ESV). Today the world has no conception of the truths that God has given us. The world plays fast and loose with words; many words are being used to support sin and an abandonment of the moral code God set out in the Bible. We justify our sins by saying that “your truth is not my truth,” and, “don’t judge me yet John 7:24 states “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
John will go on in 1 John 2:15-17 teaching us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
In James 4:1-4 James wrote, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Strong words! By inspiration John states clearly that we are adulterous when we try to side with the world and its sin, as well as trying to be faithful to God. Being a friend with the world clearly speaks of our devotion to the world, and we then become unfaithful to God. THIS IS THE REASON WHY GOD IS SO ADAMANT ABOUT THE SIN OF ADULTERY, even demanding that adulterers be killed in the Old Testament. Yet, Jesus is also ready and willing to forgive those in adultery, if the sin is repented of. It is either the world or Jesus and His kingdom!
Paul reminds Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:4-5 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. Using the metaphor of a soldier, Paul tells Timothy not to become entangled with the world.
Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:11-12 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Beloved we are sojourners and exiles. A sojourner is one who continues his/her travels till he/she FINALLY GETS HOME.
Finally in Revelation 18:1-2 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Notice John stressed the same thing Peter stressed in the passage above. Christians are sojourners and exiles! What were they commanded to do? Abstain from the passions of the flesh, which WAR against the soul. At the same time, they were to live honorable lives. Christians were and still are maligned and cursed – let us make sure that we are worthy of the gospel. May they see our good deeds daily.
Beloved, we are not of this world. We are in it, but not of it! Jesus bought us with his blood. We are His! He is our Master! We will be hated for our stand for God – but stand we must!
As sojourners we are passing through. This world is not my home! Heaven is! May we all keep our eyes on the goal. May we honor our Lord and Master daily!