Living in a World Not Your Own

by Bob Allen:

Life in 21st Century America bears a resemblance to the Kingdom of Judah during the days of Josiah, the boy king. Citizens of Judah lived, a temple in their midst, with some varying understanding of what it meant to be God’s people. There was a common upbringing in “the things of God”, but not an emphasis about what that actually meant.

Likewise, we live in a nation filled with people who have some minor experience with the Bible; they have a familiarity with the things of God and the church founded in Bible stories like Noah and the flood, Moses and the Ten Commandments, and Jonah and the whale. It is an overgeneralization, but it often feels that many reduce the Bible into an archaic “do-this-not-that” instruction manual for Christians.

Once revered, people’s opinion about the Bible changed and when that happened, the authority of the church on matters of right and wrong began to erode; so much so that in this day and age those who stand up for Biblical values are called hate-mongers, narrow minded, small. Inclusion and acceptance have supplanted Biblical teaching in the moral ethos of society. Now, you are only a decent human being if you include and accept everything. The postmodern mindset encourages widespread “I’m okay, you’re okay”-ism by saying that every individual gets to determine in their own eyes what is right and wrong for them. Attempting to explain your belief system to someone who disagrees is borderline abusive behavior. You’re OK only as long as you let me be OK doing whatever it is that you think is not OK.

The Bible is plain about it:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. (Ps. 14:1-3)

The Psalmist, David, unfolds what God sees in His creation: that man is completely self-focused and because of that none can do good. It was true some 2,800 years ago and is still true today. Life reflects this deep truth found in scripture. We inflict pain, misery, and suffering on each other daily, moment-by-moment, and often times without even trying. And in response, each person tries to find their own peace of mind, their own “happy place” if you will. It’s a cycle that stems from attempting to be self-determining, because we “decide for ourselves what is right and wrong.”

So why do believers act so surprised (even offended) that people have rejected the truth about life, about God, about the problems of this world?

Opposition to the gospel is Biblical.

Rejection of the gospel is Biblical.

These two realities should help frame how believers are to live in this world.

To the church at Corinth, Paul writes:

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised…Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. (2 Cor. 5:14-15, 20)

Christians live as foreigners in a world that is not their own. We represent a kingdom not of this world, but another. We speak as authorized emissaries for the King of Kings. Confidence in the authority and truth of the word of our Lord and confidence in the security of God’s unfailing love for His people should mark the life of every Christian. Jesus said that if the world hates us, we need to remember that it hated him first. As not-at-all-comforting as that may sound, it was spoken to encourage Christians to take up the cause of proclaiming the gospel to the lost. When Jesus told his disciples that they would face opposition, he did so to remind them of the reality of this world but that they should “take heart for I have overcome the world.” Sometimes we feel like when we run into opposition that we’ve made a mistake or that it somehow isn’t the right time to talk about Jesus because people aren’t ready to hear about him.

But that’s not really how it works.

When you play football. You put together a game plan, you practice your plays, you work on your strengths and weaknesses…

…and then you line up against the other team and it all gets very, VERY real because the guy across the line from you wants to pile-drive you into the turf and is going to apply every ounce of ferocity he can muster to do so.

If you’re not expecting it, how can you withstand it?

Folks, when we go out and share the good news about life’s bad news, there will be people who will do everything in their power to keep you from doing it. Our job isn’t to  win the arguments or “score evangelism points”.

Be a faithful ambassador for God.

Live your life for his name’s sake.

Do it because your citizenship isn’t in this world and you only have so many words you can speak here before your work-visa from heaven expires and you have to go back home to your heavenly residence above.

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