I really don’t like it when Christians throw around simplistic, “cheesy” explanations of biblical ideas. “In the world but not of the world” is definitely a biblical idea but when well-meaning people define it as “just being in Jesus” (what does THAT mean?) or not conforming (to what?) or “staying on this side of the fence,” (really? …does that explanation have something to do with not “sitting ON the fence???) it’s not much help to me. I am very “application-oriented” in that I want to understand how to live out biblical truth – if I’m a Christian, how should I then live? I’m not looking for cliche answers – I want to be challenged, transformed, authentic and honoring to God.
I’ve spent a good chunk of my morning in the Bible – reading and reflecting on this idea of “living in the world but not of it” and I kept coming back to this verse.
Romans 12.2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I really appreciate what R.C. Sproul writes about this verse.
Let’s look at those two words that are crucial to that discussion in Scripture, the difference between conformity and transformation. The prefix con-means “with.” And so to conform to this world means literally to be with it. The Bible says that we are not to be conformed to (or with) the patterns of this world. We are to go beyond nonconformity to transformation. Something that is transformed is something that is changed. The prefix trans-means “above and beyond.” We are to be above and beyond the standards of this world, not in the sense that we are to elevate ourselves in lofty status above everybody else, but that we are called to a more excellent way of life. That doesn’t mean you drop out of the world; this world is my Father’s world, and this is the arena of God’s redemption. This world is the world that God has committed himself to renew and redeem, and we are to participate in that with him.
I don’t want to be “with” the patterns of this world. Christianity is not specific behavioral “shoulds and shouldn’ts” – it’ about breaking through the selfish, repetitious and destructive patterns that this world advocates and living above and beyond. it’s about being forgiven, cleansed and changed from the inside out. We experience the freedom gifted to us because of His death on the cross and we go back into the world, moved by His Spirit, to make a difference.
I don’t want what this world offers me. I’m not here “for a good time.”
I want to live an extraordinary life and leave a legacy of love….so give me Jesus.