The Chaos

The Chaos

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"In... Not of"

If you are still reading this today, I thank you.
I thank you because you may have merely been enjoying my spotlight blogs and now are questioning how these religious rants are related to the Gaffner Chaos. I guess, effectively, these are my spotlight blogs. Because this is me. Always opinionated and always passionate, especially about my faith.
Don't worry, I will return to more light-hearted Gaffner Chaos anecdotes as soon as I complete this thought.

And complete it, we shall.

The most common argument I hear from the outspoken Christian breed that speaks against all things "worldly" is that we are called to be "in the world, but not of the world". There is actually no specific scripture which states this proposition, however much of Scripture indicates that we should be setting ourselves apart. In fact, holiness means to "set apart". This suggests that the moment that you believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord that your life should become different from those around you. Hopefully a good kind of different.

I think the confusion is over how we as Christians can live "IN" the world but not be "OF" the World and the assumption was made that in order to follow Christ we must turn our backs on the world. Enter the pharisee with all of his/her lists of what is right, wrong, and just plain "sinful". And despite my loathing of their annoying protests, I understand their motive. I think the problem is that they have the wrong orientation.

We have an awesome life road map in God's Word and it gives clear cut guidelines for "holy living", what it doesn't give... specifics. For example, Jesus talked about many things but whether or not one should listen to Christian rock or Christian bluegrass... not exactly one of his topics. Paul clearly states in Philippians that we should think about such things that encourage holiness, purity, etc (Philippians 4:8), but once again no specific guidelines for your entertainment preferences.

And YET I have seen and heard Christians bash other Christians and non-believers alike over the things they listen to, watch, and read.... things that are clearly not Biblically motivated but merely preferential. (And trust me there's a HUGE difference between a goofy comedic movie and porn, and the latter most certainly falls into that "unholy" category based on scripture that speaks specifically against sexual immorality.) But the fact remains that many have taken their own preferences and traditions and attempted to ascribe these man-made laws as gospel when in fact, they are not. Once again, it's all in the way they are oriented. What does that mean? Let me explain.

I learned the answer this weekend and it's tres simple. So simple a kid could understand.
(insert cute picture of my baby here... lol)

When we believe in and accept the fact that we are sinners and that Christ is the only way we will receive forgiveness from those sins, we have to make a decision to "repent" which means to turn our backs on our sin. But we have mistakingly assumed that when we turn our backs on our sin that we must turn our backs on the world. But how does that make sense? How do you evangelize in a world that you have turned against? And besides we aren't asked to leave the world, obviously we are still IN the world.

The problem is that we have assumed that we are in the middle of a giant battle of God vs. the World. On one side we have God desiring our love, worship, and attention and on the other side we have the World that tempts us to do everything contrary to God's Word. It's back and forth, left and right, and we are left dizzy from the decision.

But what if we move?
What if we change the orientation?

Or more pointedly, God moves from just another choice or decision, to the priority of the equation.
We move God to the middle, the center of it all.
(Which if you ask me, that's where He deserves to be to begin with.)
Now God is in the middle and we are looking at the World through God's eyes.

Now you are able to be IN the world but not OF the world.
How? Because though you are an active participant in life on earth, your "glasses" are now colored to God's perspective. It takes all the pressure off of you to be "right" and puts all your trust on God's ability to direct you toward things that are good and profitable for your life. And it takes away the necessity of the obnoxious Christian "holy patrol". Who needs them if we all cease to see things through our own eyes and start looking through God's?  

There's no way you or I can be perfect. But we can be set apart, different, more focused on the real issues... when we make God the priority, not ourselves.

That's the real problem with our modern day Pharisee's, they have a centralized faith... centered on themselves.

What we need are more Christians willing to move around their equation, putting God in the center and seeing things through His eyes. Viewing with Him as our mediator will change what we watch, listen to, and read, but also how we share that message with others.

Just a thought. :)
And just to be totally honest, it's not my own thoughts but from the mouth of a great Christian speaker and author, Mr. David Rhodes. Check him out at


  1. (John 17:13-16) But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

  2. Thank you for this scripture, but it doesn't state the phrase mentioned, though it is a great verse that is used to give some explanation as to where the phrase originated.
    And for clarification purposes I am not suggesting that Christians say and do as they please and not be "seperate" but instead they place Christ as the center of their lives allowing them to be more effective ministers to this world that they are "in" but not "of".

  3. And notice that in verse 15 it says that they "should not be taken out of the world", our role of evangelism is essential to the proclamation of the Word of God. We cannot remove ourselves from the world and still be effective. Though we do not immerse ourselves either, instead we place ourselves with Christ as the priority and all things become shaded and it is His perspective that we see in the world and thus we become more effective ministers and ambassadors for the Savior.

  4. "in the world, but not of the world" is a paraphrase of several verses that are VERY clear on this. First, we are told in Romans 12:2 (KJV)

    2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    Then in John twice:

    John 15:19 KJV If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

    John 17:13-17 KJV

    13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

    14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

    15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

    16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

    17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

    Also in 1 John 2:15 KJV

    15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

    So, as you can see, it IS a paraphrase of the scripture. Christ IS teaching us that we should be in the world and not of the world.

    Even James tells us: James 4:4 KJV

    4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

    To me it is pretty black and white--there is no gray area. We are to be in the world but not of this world. While we are here we are to be fishers of men. Plain and simple.

    You stated above:

    "We have an awesome life road map in God's Word and it gives clear cut guidelines for "holy living", what it doesn't give... specifics."

    I don't know about your Bible, but mine is pretty specific on what we as the church should be doing, and what we shouldn't. I could list a whole list if you would like?

    We are to point out the sin in this world to the unsaved. We are to do it in a GODLY MANNER. We are to lead by example. We are to strive to be Christlike even though we can never be perfect like Him, until we are finally with Him. But until we are with our amazing Father and our precious Jesus we are to be in this world and not of it, shining our light and being fishers of men.

    Here is an excellent article on this very subject. I hope you take the time to read it.

  5. I was not implying that the phrase was not grounded in scripture but the the EXACT phrase does not occur in one verse. Also you might notice that I never indicated that Christian should not stand firm on the precepts set in the Bible. In fact I have made it a point to clearly indicate that I agree with and understand our responsibility to be advocates of holy living. But I also clearly pointed out that there is a difference between something that is clearly scriptural and something that is preferential. I have issues with those that try to make their preferences out to be the voice of God when scripture has made no mention of it (you may notice the example I used of an individual that tried to accuse Christian rock of being sinful because it had a beat that she did not like).

    So again lest this be confused.
    I understand that we are not OF this world but for now we are very much IN this world. And Christians should make the most of their time while on earth, spreading the Gospel of Christ and preaching Gods Word, leaving their preferences out of it.

  6. I have deleted a comment from this blog because someone took something a little too personally that was never intended to be so.
    I will say to Corissa that I was not writing about you at all or any one person for that matter. This is my collective thoughts after a weekend retreat in which a new concept was introduced to me regarding how we place our perspective in the world. Any assumption that I was referring to a singular person is incorrect.