in the world but not of the world … now what?

Continuing the conversation from yesterday’s the ungodly alliance of world and flesh

Note a few details from Jesus’ prayer found in John 17 …

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. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me INto the world, so I have sent them INto the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:14-19 (ESV)

Before looking at our mission, let’s consider the mission of Jesus …

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17 (ESV)

Jesus was sent not to condemn the people of the world but that the world might be saved through Him … whoever believes IN Him will not perish but have eternal life … and as individual believers we benefit from the outcome of His mission … and as ambassadors of reconciliation we are to continue proclaiming the very same gospel that Jesus proclaimed.

We reveal our god-complex when we seek to rid the world of evil (like ISIS aka ISIL and even during select eras of Christianity) … and ironically we tend to embrace evil in the midst of the process of thinking we are eliminating evil

Our objective as believers is not to eliminate the evil in the world around us but to join Christ Jesus in His defeat of the evil withIN each and every one of us.

The Bible tells us that the responsibility for conquering and destroying evil in this world falls upon … God.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:22-26 (ESV)

So what then do we do with our flesh and blood enemies in and of the world?

Jesus answered that question in both words and actions …

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:44-45 (ESV)

Did you get that subtle prick to the heart in the end of that passage? So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven … just like Jesus.

We are not called to defeat our flesh and blood enemies in this world … we are called to love our enemies out of this world and INto Jesus and the kingdom of God.

Now before you have a Jonah moment (consider Jonah 3-4 … a brief 21 verses in total), you and I need to realize that we ALL were at one time enemies of God!

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:6-10 (ESV)

OK, let’s make a quick assessment in the mirror …

  • While we were still weak, Christ died for us
  • While we were still ungodly, Christ died for us
  • While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
  • While we were enemiesof God, Christ died for us

Now shouldn’t that challenge each and every one of us to see those currently standing where we once stood with love … not with rejection and/or hate but through the loving eyes of Jesus …

Now for a few ERM 101 basics (ERM … Enemy Relationship Management) … no recaps from here on out just a few bolds and caps to capture your attention … may the Holy Spirit open our eyes to the mission.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but KIND to everyone, able to teach, PATIENTLY ENDURING EVIL, correcting his opponents with GENTLENESS. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (ESV)

Brothers, if ANYone is caught in ANY transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of GENTLENESS. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:1-3 (ESV)

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16 (ESV)

OK, that last verse makes a little more sense to me now …

Bernie

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About bwebbjr

A grandfather, father, husband, man, and a child of God who is following Christ Jesus and working out his salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work IN me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). I dodged my first bullet with cancer when a cancerous polyp was removed in a sigmoid colectomy surgery in August 2007. Four years later, in the midst of a second colectomy surgery we discovered I had Stage IV metastatic colon cancer. Rather than colectomy surgery I had colostomy surgery, which now means the colostomy bag is a part of my everyday life ... with the emphasis on life. God has given us a peace beyond understanding as my wife and I have traveled this journey. By the grace of God I am blessed to be a 6 plus year cancer survivor aka warrior. In writing, I am often wrestling with my own personal struggles and beliefs and in the midst God leads me to a lesson He wants me to learn ... or sometimes He simply touches me in the revelation of Himself. My hope is that the result you see here might touch your heart and glorify God. And let me be clear ... I am not the only one with something to say. Please join in the conversation sharing your faith, your cancer experiences, etc. I would love to hear from you. Bernie
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2 Responses to in the world but not of the world … now what?

  1. jimdavenport says:

    Lots to think about here, Bernie. God has told us that He will fight our battles … I am reminded of how God intervened in the Battle of Beracah during the reign of Jehoshaphat as recorded in 2 Chronicles 20. Judah was most assuredly facing insurmountable odds as the combined armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites were poised to attack and destroy Judah’s army and pillage their land. These combined fighters were those from lands that were not originally taken by the Israelites when they moved into the Promised Land. Facing what he thought as sure defeat Jehoshaphat turned to God in fervent prayer reminding God that these were the very people that God ” … would not let Israel invade … ” (2 Chron 20:10). As Judah’s men, women and children all stood before the Lord, God revealed through Jahaziel that He (and He alone) would take care of the situation without the aid of Judah’s army! God told Jehoshaphat to hold his position … stand firm … and see the salvation of the Lord. And it worked out just as God had promised, The Lord “set an ambush” and the three invading armies on their way to wipe out Judah first attacked and killed the inhabitants of Mount Seir (not part of Judah). Afterwards “they all helped to destroy one another (verse 23).” Verses 24-25 tell the rest of the story in Judah’s deliverance: “24 When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there[d] were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much.” Judah’s army and their people, every one of them, returned safely to their homeland … fully delivered and protected by the hand of God.

    I am not arguing against your post in any way. In fact, I agree with it wholeheartedly. There are times that God will take care of our enemies … and there are times that God tells us that we are to take care of our enemies. I truly believe that ISIS is one of those enemies that God would have us eliminate. Love you my brother, Jim

    • bwebbjr says:

      A great, great comment Jim … one I can truly believe in. As I wrote the last few posts, I was indeed struck with the belief that in reading some would believe I might be a pacifist and that there is never a need for the sword. So I was strongly convicted that I must know my response before posting … and the account in 2 Chronicles 20 is perfectly aligned with the answer I was prepared to give … I truly believe the expectations of the Lord are indeed spelled out in Romans 13, 1 Peter 2:13-14 and Luke 3:14 … as king of Judah Jehoshaphat was charged by God to wield the sword … to be an avenger and bring wrath down on those who practice evil and were about to destroy Judah. And today that same responsibility falls on the governing authorities of the free world who continue to deal with evil such as ISIS … tis a very fine line we walk as Christians in dealing with enemies like this … but history … Christian history … reveals that many a person has died loving their enemies as Jesus loved them AND many a person has died fighting their enemies under the leadership of the governing authorities … both according to God’s will and in obedience to our Sovereign King. God be glorified!!!

      Bernie

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