The state of the world today has lines drawn between opposing thoughts regarding freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and much more. Where do followers of Christ belong? In John 17, Jesus said that His followers had been called “out of the world” yet were still “in the world” (verses 6, 11). And He warned them, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). Our response to the animosity we experience in here must be driven by the example God has given to us. When we understand what Jesus has done for us, we can say, “By my actions and attitude, I want to show the love of God.” We are clearly “in the world” with all of its distractions and challenges, but when we demonstrate God’s love, we show we are not “of the world.”
When we come to Christ, our former life is put behind us—we are told to “seek those things which are above” (Colossians 3:1). It’s interesting to watch new Christians who suddenly realize they’re under new management. This is true for every Christian living today—we put aside the old life and pursue a new life in Christ.
This was a constant refrain of the New Testament authors. Peter, for example, told his readers: “You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.”
“Of course,” he added, “your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:3-5, NLT).
This is why Christians must understand the secret of the graceful exit. We have to exit our former life gracefully, but firmly say, “No” when our friends encourage us to go places, think thoughts, say words, plan deeds, or engage in activities that would damage our testimony and displease our Lord. It takes a lot of courage to resist the temptations of this world and of the flesh, but Christ died on the cross to empower us to live no longer for ourselves but for Him. And that testimony is needed in our world today more than ever before.
Our Attitude and Actions
When someone comes to Christ, a transformation takes place. Their attitude will reflect gratitude to God and their actions will show love to others. Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Before knowing Christ, we were hateful, prideful, selfish, unloving, and alienated in our mind from God. Now we are developing love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. “As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies…bearing with one another and forgiving one another…even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:12-14).
When grace makes its entrance into our life, it becomes our teacher on how to make a graceful exit—to leave our former way of life—and to show Christ to those around us. We are to be known by our love, demonstrating God’s love and mercy to those around us.
We are pilgrims and strangers in this world, but while we are here, we are to be salt and light to those who do not know God. Even when our beliefs are challenged and our faith is mocked, the testimony of Christ can shine through us and light the darkness around us. That is our role—“in the world,” but “not of it.”
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information on Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org
The most active battleground isn’t on any military map. It’s inside of you every day, as your old nature wages war with your new nature in Christ. Dr. David Jeremiah sheds light on that conflict and how you can enlist God’s help to resolve it through the quality of biblical self-control.