In the World but not of the World

Over the summer holidays I’ve been reflecting on this question. If I had to sum up EVERYTHING I have written over the years, what would I say? Is there a central point to it all? I have concluded that, yes there is, and it is this: it’s about exploring ways of being in the World but not of the World (John 17:15-19) Or, to put it a slightly different way, of living in ways that are culturally engaged yet Christ centred.

As the cultural streams I connect with most deeply tend to view truth mystically, beauty visually and goodness non-violently, I have tended to focus my Christological reflections on these areas. But the central point – the call to be in the World but not of the World – has far broader implications I think. It has implications for whoever we are, wherever we are, and however we live our lives.

I think it needs discussion because, well, Christendom has trained Christians to artificially divide space and time into the sacred and the secular, leaving us with a domestcated, privatized spirituality that lacks the world-shacking wildness of the authentic gospel. That is what I am seeking to delve deeper into, for myself and others, to the glory of the living God.

4 Comments

  1. Just found ur blog had to comment here. U speak like a very educated man that’s great but the question ur asking is from a very simple view point. The bible tells u that the devils kingdom is on earth to live of the world is to follow the devil u can’t not serve two masters to make it more simple. Man is the devil government, schools,religious institutes are the devils kingdom. Jesus had no job, no home,he traveled like the tribes of mid east before rome and the native tribes here before us. We all fall short and fail to follow in this aspect. Ask urself can u follow Jesus today can u leave ur job, sell ur home and cars leave ur computer behind ur phone eat from the land and never go to a grocery store again I bet like me the answer is no. Theology has destroyed to teaching of Jesus. We have been fought to put way to much attention on believing we are saved by placing Jesus in gods set as one with god but not following his teaching and we believe that by worshiping Jesus as the son of god basically god himself that we will be taken away from the pain of globilization or the end. This theology proves the devil is real he has deceived the world into not following the teaching of Jesus but following his teaching without knowing. Why would god spare us we its is our fault it happen no we will be here each person on earth regardless of ur religious beliefs will have to make the final choice accept the mark or die for god but understand the mark clearly its doesn’t come by force it comes in the name of world peace for ur safety and security in fact its already coming because we as a majority bought into the hipe that Islam is a treat and terrorist want to kill us but the true treat and terrorist is our own goverment

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  2. We can learn from the first century Christians wha it meant to be “no part of the world”:
    “Early Christianity was little understood and was regarded with little favor by those who ruled the pagan world. . . . Christians refused to share certain duties of Roman citizens. . . . They would not hold political office.”—On the Road to Civilization, A World History (Philadelphia, 1937), A. Heckel and J. Sigman, pp. 237, 238.
    “The Christians stood aloof and distinct from the state, as a priestly and spiritual race, and Christianity seemed able to influence civil life only in that manner which, it must be confessed, is the purest, by practically endeavouring to instil more and more of holy feeling into the citizens of the state.”—The History of the Christian Religion and Church, During the Three First Centuries (New York, 1848), Augustus Neander, translated from German by H. J. Rose, p. 168.
    So, the early Chritians didn’t involve themselves in the politcal elements. Why not? Remember Jesus being tempted by Satan after his baptism. One of the things Satan offered Jesus was “all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth.” How could Satan “tempt” Jesus with these if they were not his to give? Wouldn’t be much of a temptation would it? Also, Paul stated:
    (2 Corinthians 4:4) among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.
    The “god of this system”is no other than Satan the devil. So, if Satan is in control of the governmental rulership of the world (and it certainly makes sense seeing how corrupt and evil they can be) wouldn’t it behoove God’s people to be “no part of the world” which belongs to Satan?

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  3. Tower, Have you tried to unpack what John 17:15-19 is actually saying? If you are aspiring to provide biblical feedback its imperative that you at least try to engage with the biblical passage which is in focus before you critique my use of it. Neither the passage or my use of it implies a denial of the devil. Quite the contrary, the passage explicitly mentiones “the evil one”. I can only conclude, therefore, that you failed to read the Biblical passage before writing your comment.
    Furthermore, Paul had a job, Cornelius had a home, the writers of the New Testament all used the latest communications technologies, and Jesus used a donkey for transport on his way into Jerusalem. Following Jesus has to do with sacrificial living, not Ludditism.

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  4. Anna, I find your definition of politics too narrrow. Politics, as I understand the word, is an inevitabible dimention of community. The only way to avoid politics is to avoid community. However, there are different ways of doing politics. This I believe is the thrust of Jesus’ teaching, don’t seek to dominate, seek to empower. Christians shall have no part of domination-style politics. This is where the refusal to take political office comes in. On this I agree with you, Christians should be vary wary of tying themselves to any political party.

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