What about our position as Christians in the world? Where do we stand? Where should we stand? To answer these type of questions I will look at what the Bible has to say about this, because who better than God knows our position in the world.
John 17 recorded the longest prayer by Jesus in the Bible. In verses 13-21 He prays on our behalf when He says: “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
Jesus santifies us in the truth. What does that mean? Sanctification means to make holy or to make productive of or conducive to spiritual blessing. He sent us out into the world. He wanted us to be here. He made us holy and free from sin to be an example when He left.
But what does the world think of this? The world in this context can be described as the body of unbelievers. On several occassions (John 7:7, John 15:18-19, 1 John 3:13, 1 John 2:15-16, 2 Timothy 3:12-13, James 4:4) Jesus, James and Paul speak about the fact that the world will hate us, that the world will persecute us because we testify of Jesus, and that we should not love the world nor the things in it (just to be sure, it does not say not to love people, but not to indulge in the deeds of the world: the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life), because friendship with the world is hostility towards God, and makes himself an enemy of God.
So, does the world hate us? To answer this question we have to honestly look at the current state of our relationship with the world. What does that tell us about us following Christ? Are we being persecuted? If so, to what extent? There are definitely parts of the world where Christians are being persecuted for their faith, but in general we can say that the western world is not being persecuted. Yet we should.
If the world hates us, yet Jesus wanted us to stay in this world, what does Jesus “provide” us to stand against the persecution? The answer is a transformed state, a new heart, a new vision, and the Holy Spirit. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2), “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3), “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16), “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15)
Our refusal to conform to the world should do deeper than the level of behavior and customs. It must be firmly planted in our minds. Only when the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates, and redirects our minds are we truly transformed. Daily we must consciously choose to center our lives on God. Use the Bible to discover God’s guidelines, and then follow them. A transformed life is an effective witness to the power of God’s Word. If we live for Christ, we will glow like lights, showing others what Christ is like. We hide our lights by being quiet when we should speak, going along with the crowd, denying the light, letting sin dim our light, not explaining our light to others, and ignoring the needs of others.
The question we should ask ourselves here is how can our transformed state become apparent to everyone? Do we allow ourselves to be renewed, reeducated and redirected by the Holy Spirit? In what ways do, or should, people notice we are different?
One way is that we are able to speak God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:12-16, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, Proverbs 12:26), “for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) so that we “see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:8-10)
The Apostle Paul assures us that God’s mighty weapons (prayer, faith, hope, love, God’s Word, the Holy Spirit) are powerful and effective. ow do we speak the wisdom of God (or boast about God) to the natural man? Who are our neighbors? Would your neighbor say that you are a guide for him/her? How do we “destroy speculations” while still showing gentleness and love? (Speak the truth in love?) Our “job” is not to judge non-believers, but to speak and live the truth. How, then, do we share truth to non-believers who are believing lies about God?