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Living In The World But Not Of It

If you were to ask me, “What do you personally find the hardest part about being a Christian?”  I could answer quickly but the pursuit of this has been no easy journey.

BALANCE.

I think it’s really challenging to live a balanced life – one that is attractive to others so that they can see a difference,  yet confidently living out truth that honors God but ultimately and often offends others.  May I be honest? I have wrestled with balance since the day I became a Christian, at age fourteen. My conversion was a time of great joy but the euphoria didn’t last long. Reality hit hard when I went home after camp and with great passion, informed my mother that I had become a born again Christian – suffice it to say that my declaration of faith did not go over well, nor did my brashness move my mom any closer to Christ. If  I can remember her exact words – she said, “sending you to that Christian camp was the worst decision I’ve ever made.” I made quite an impact.

Since that day, I have been exposed to many ideas of how I “should” live my Christian life. (“Shoulds” have always been a red light to me. Many well-meaning Christians seem to find shelter in a place of “belonging” where everyone around them are driven by “shoulds” – I’ve never understood that because I believe that the  shoulds” are in great contrast to the freedom that we have in Christ…but that’s a whole other discussion.)  I’ve been through the lifestyle evangelism season where I was encouraged to relate, hang out with and “be all things to all people.”  I’ve also been taught that I am different because I am a Christian and that everything about me needs to be different – that I was never meant to “fit” in this world.  I have seen rigid legalism and abused freedom – people seem to feel more “comfortable” with one extreme or the other.

So, I wrestle with this daunting question: How do I live in the world but not of it? I mean, when I wake up in the morning, how does my Christianity flesh itself out in a culture that is so obsessed with “what things look like.”  What do I do with quotes like the one I read this morning…

We are Christians and strangers on this earth. Let none of us be frightened; our native land is not this world.

 St. Augustine of Hippo

OR

Keep yourself as a pilgrim and a stranger in this world, as one to whom the world’s business counts but little. 

Thomas Kempis

…yet years ago, I was told that I “might be the only Bible that others read”  so I need to relate to people and be bold with the Gospel message.  Jesus said, “ It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” I need to be where the people are and that often leaves me being misunderstood or judged.

It all leaves me in a quandary. I need to be involved, yet separate. Bold, yet gentle. Informed, yet innocent. In the world but not of it.

Easy to say: hard to do.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God. 

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

I’m going to keep on thinking about this and get back to you tomorrow.  If you have any thoughts on this, please do share!

Ciao!

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  1. Barb

    Thanks Diane. I’m again with you on your dilemma. It has been a life time ambiguous situation for me. I look forward to your further thoughts on this earthly struggle.

    After our last trip to an All Europe Mission conference of our European missionaries. I was so challenged by the impact this conference made on me, that on my flight home from France, I wrote out my thoughts , and titled it, “How then shall I live.” these creative missionaries, ordinary people with the huge task of being the only Christ these spiritually bound souls may ever meet. Over the week I saw it in action and came away determined to apply it tony own life and the souls I meet on a daily basis.. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t get too far on my journey to change. We expect “missionaries” to go and make disciples, a job we fail terribly at ourselves. I really am talking only about myself but I know I am not alone in this challenge .
    I am talking in circles, but I think you probably understand where I am coming from!
    I am forwarding something I wrote this morning. You may find it interesting in light of what you shared today!
    Blessings Diane. I’m off to see Kath on Wed. But we need to connect soon over a cup of tea. :-)) blessings, Barb
    My dear ones,
    As I woke this morning, after a restless sleep, waking up frequently , long enough to pray and seek God for the burdens of my heart , mainly for others, I chose to be thankful. It was a welcoming decision as I opened the blinds to a glorious sun filled day. My mind immediately went to God’s love for me. Not because I deserve it or I’ve earned it , but because of who He is. HE IS LOVE. He shines on the righteous and unrighteous , that is His choice. My heart immediately went into a mode of thankfulness, starting to list all the things that I am thankful for, and the list was endless. I could keep going but the exercise overwhelmed me, and I stopped realizing how truly blessed I am.

    As I routinely do, I opened my iPad to the devotions of the day that I receive, and all of them directed me to the God of grace and mercy and His great love for me. Amongst them , is my app for Caringbridge, to connect with Emily and her household that I read each morning and night, just to keep abreast of any current happenings and prayer needs. I will share with you what Emily’s mom,  Lindsey, wrote. God knows all the needs of our hearts, yet at times I think He just wants us, all of us, our whole beings, to sit at His feet and be thankful for just being the recipient of His great love and provision. It’s at times like this that no matter what is happening in our lives , or our loved ones and close friends lives,the ” His load is easy, and His burden is light.”

    Praying for each one of you today, who are close to my heart and are carrying your own load. Sending my love and a big hug,

    Barb

    Thank you Lindsey for your inspiration to choose to be thankful. Love you, Barb

    A May Morning in Early February
    Emily’s Very Dear Blog Family:

    I was there this morning in the dark when dawn raised its eyelid and shone its first glimmers.

    And I was there at Emily’s bedside when her beautiful brown eyes gave their first squint of the day, stirred from their slumber.

    Within minutes, lovely Madeleine swung into motion and our golden retriever yawned and stretched. Emily’s nurse for the next few hours slipped in quietly, washing and sanitizing her hands, whispering. Wild birds congregated outside, a fanfare of color and chatter, anticipating the next feed. Here was the gift of another Monday, waiting to be unwrapped!

    There is something very disarming about this unprecedented weather. Anything else that might be said seems to dissipate in comparison. To all appearances, it is early spring on this winter day, the comforting hues under blue skies like those I so fondly recall from warmer mornings of Israel in March. One glance, and the tugs at the heartstrings are to drink it in fully, deeply, before it decides to linger no more, before in this world of great changes it might don a darker cloak and flee away…

    We therefore ponder quietly, though simultaneously engaged in the relentless routines, grateful for the freedom in these preparatory moments of choosing to smile in our hearts… to seize the opening joys of this May day, in February.

    And what a big and busy week of opportunity lays ahead! One little step at a time.

    “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
    ~Frederick Buechner

    Lovingly,
    Lindsey 

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