In the World, But Not of the World
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” – John 15:19
The child of God is not “of” this world. They have been strategically positioned “in” this world for a season to be an instrument in the hand of God to accomplish His purposes on earth. Being “in” the world simply means that God has called His people to be salt and light to this lost, dark, and dying world. It means that it is not God’s will for His people to be hermits hiding from society and that it is His will for them to go out penetrate this icy world with the warmth of the gospel. But, being “in” the world is radically different than being “of” the world. So what does it really mean to be “not of this world?”
“Not of this world” means that earth is not our permanent residence. Planet earth is just a temporal dwelling place for the believer. Our time here on earth should be seen as simply an extended stay at a traveler’s inn, an inn that we will one day check out of and depart for our eternal, permanent home in heaven. To fully embrace this truth and see in the proper perspective, one must look back to the beginning of human history, back to the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden was like a perfect utopia. It had not been marred by sin, sickness, disease or death. But because of Adam and Eve’s sin, any hopes in their new garden home were dashed. As tenants, Adam and Eve were guilty of a contract breach with God the Landlord, and they were evicted. And since the fall of man when our original parents were displaced out of the Garden of Eden, God’s people have not been home. The good news for the child of God is that they will arrive home when they are ushered through the threshold of eternity. Oh that we would live like aliens journeying through a foreign land longing for home!
“Not of this world” means we are not to have a love affair with the world. The word “world” is used in three ways within Scripture. It can refer to planet earth (Matthew 4:4, Acts 17:24), it can refer to the inhabitants of the earth (John 3:16), or it can refer to the evil and sinful behaviors of mankind (1 John 2:15). When we refer to not having a love affair with the world, we are referring to the latter. The longings and affections of our heart should not be drawn to wickedness of society or this evil world system, even in light all of its alluring vices. Having the world as a mistress will spiritually ravage the soul. So instead, our love affair should be with kingdom things, the things of God. The Bible says that we are to set our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2). It would be wise for us to remember that a love for the world is equivalent to a hatred for God (James 1:22). This means we are not to think, act, respond and function like the world. We are not to be in step with the world’s drum. There should be something refreshing about our approach to life, so refreshing that those without Christ long for what we have.
“Not of this world” means that the weight of the world is not the end of the world. Let’s face it; life’s pressures can be overwhelming. And because of this, hopes can be dashed and dreams can be shattered. But since the Christian is not of this world, they have available to them a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and a greater future hope. And with this hope is the ability to see life’s difficulties through the lenses of eternity and the prism of God’s sovereignty. To be “not of this world” means to see every event in light of eternity.
Ponder these truths today, and may your testimony be that you are in the world, but not of this world.
– Pastor Eric