What sets us apart from the rest of the world?
If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “In the world, not of the world.” This is a paraphrase of part of a passage in John 15. Verses 18 & 19 say, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
Most people have understood this passage to mean that we are to be “in” the world in the sense that we’re not judging non-Christians or avoiding them, just as Jesus didn’t hesitate to hang out with the tax collectors and the sinners (Mark 2:13-17). However, we’re not “of” the world because Jesus has called us to a higher purpose. God tells us all over the book of Leviticus, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” We see this sentiment repeated in 1 Peter 1:13-17.
What does it mean to be holy? 1 Peter 2:9 states, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Being holy means being set apart. Our lives should be markedly different than the lives of non-believers. But how?
Read the Bible
The Bible is God’s Word. It’s living and active and relevant to our lives today. As Christians, we believe that it’s our guidebook, our light, and an integral way in which we connect with God. If we truly think all of that, then of course, we should be spending time studying it!
The wonderful thing about being a Christian is that we have been gifted with the Holy Spirit. That means we don’t have to take our pastor’s word for it or leave the heavy lifting to the scholars. We have the ability to understand scripture and let it speak to us.
Along with reading God’s Word, praying is another way we communicate and connect with God. The Bible is God’s letter to us. It contains His instructions, His discipline, and His grace. The way we communicate back to God is through prayer. The two go hand in hand.
Christianity isn’t a religion as much as it is a relationship with God. Communication is an important part of any relationship, let alone a relationship with the God of the universe.
If prayer is how we communicate with God, then fellowship is how we connect with other Christians. This is more than just showing up to church on Sunday mornings. Fellowship is an intentional connection with other Christians with the purpose of building one another up and creating a community of support.
We certainly live in the height of consumer culture. This bleeds over into our Christian lives as well, whether we know it or not. It’s easy to get stuck in that consumer mentality – Jesus loves me, he died for me, this sermon is for me, the worship is for me, and so on and so forth. While this is true, it’s also incomplete.
Over and over in scripture we see that Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), Jesus died for the sins of the world (John 3:16), and that He doesn’t want any to be lost, but to come to a saving knowledge of Him (1 Peter 3:9). Therefore, if we are to be imitators of Christ, we must give of ourselves to further the kingdom. This means being generous with our time, money, and other resources.
Share Your Faith
So often we think that sharing the good news of Jesus is for our pastors or at least those in full-time ministry. However, this passage in Matthew 28, also known as The Great Commission, states, “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It’s pretty clear that we’re all commanded to make disciples, each and every one of us.