I have always struggled with the concept of a Christian being “in the world; yet not of this world.” Sure, I could regurgitate the surface understanding and tell you that a Christian has not reached their final glory and that they are to live their life in a Godly reality. This, however, always felt to me to be superficial. I sensed there was more to this concept than what I heard a trillion times. Yet every sermon, or discussion on the subject seemed to just repeat this refrain. So I just chalked this feeling up to my propensity to make things (especially things of God) more complicated than they really are. This is where I was at until…
Now I love watching Christian movies. For me they are a lot like scripture in the sense that I can watch them over and over again and still learn something new. This was a case when I recently re-watched The Grace Card. In this movie a black pastor of a church plant, who is also working as a cop, gets partnered with a white cop who demonstrates racist tendencies. The pastor struggles with his calling as he realizes that he has met someone he truly struggles to love. As he attempts to discuss this struggle with his wife, he complains, “That’s what Mack is doing to my life, Deborah; showing me where my heart really is. Its carrying a gun, not carrying a Bible.”
As a pastor I can relate to this dilemma. I think all ministry leaders face those moments when they question if they are really doing what God called them to do. Yet it is his wife’s response that really shook me to the core. “You really believe that? You are a good man Sam Wright. I am so glad God gave you to me. But I think you got it backwards: God didn’t bring him into your life; he brought you into his. You just have to figure out why.”
Did you catch that? We spend so much time trying to find out why God brought people into our lives, that we don’t stop to think that God brought us into theirs. This is just another way Satan has twisted the plan of God and the Gospel. Christians spend their energies trying to get people come to God. When in all actuality we should be taking God to them.
The Apostle John wrote, “The Word became flesh.” (John 1:14). God entered our life. He experienced our pain. He felt our joy. He brought light to the darkness. Then why as Christians do we try to bring the darkness to light? If I light a candle I don’t try to surround the candle by building a dark room around it. No, I carry the candle to the areas that are dark. The Church has attempted through its soul-winning philosophy to attempt to bring darkness to the light. Instead, we should be entering people’s life. Seeing and feeling their hurt, so that we can carry the light of Christ to the darkness of their heart. God did not die and suffer the cross to win souls to heaven. He suffered and bled to capture the hearts of his treasured creation. Let me repeat that: GOD DID NOT DIE and SUFFER the CROSS to win souls to heaven. HE SUFFERED and BLED to CAPTURE the HEARTS of his treasured creation.
So what does it mean to be “in the world, but not apart of it?” It means illuminating a person to their life’s surroundings. Are you witnessing to an atheist? Don’t try to convince him God exists, instead show him the hopelessness of atheism. Show him the mess of such a life. Dealing with drug addicts? Don’t try to force them into rehab, instead show them the empty whole they are trying to fill. Light illuminates so that the path out can be seen. It does not compel or even force the path to be taken. That has to be a personal choice. It has to be desired on an individual level. This is what it means to share the Gospel. Jesus said that he was “The Way.” (14:6). Our light should illuminate the way and display the wreckage of sin. It is God who deals with sin itself. We just illuminate what He has already accomplished on the Cross.