Monday, April 30, 2012

in the world, not of the world

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV)

I was reading this tonight and I thought, how does one keep oneself "unstained from the world."? I mean, we are called to reach a world that is perishing, to jump in and throw a lifeline to those sinking in their own sin. How can we then stay dry? I started thinking about that line between "in the world" and "of the world." Oftentimes, it is so blurry. We're raised to believe that God is black or white, right or wrong. But lately I've been lead by God to explore when and how He works in the gray areas. Please do not misunderstand, God is the same yesterday, today and forever and He absolutely has laid out for us rights and wrongs. Many things in His word are laid out in black and white, whether we choose to believe it, or twist it with interpretation. A lot of times, He speaks clearly, with a megaphone. But He chooses to whisper in the wind sometimes, to bolster our faith and keep us seeking after Him. I mean, if He laid it all out for us, what need would we have to learn more about Him. We'd just be robots, carrying out his programming.
Anyways, this has diverged from my original subject, but some good thoughts nonetheless. What do you think?


  1. I think that if someone tries to be "out of the world" to escape from it, then they will become more like it in their heart. A man who goes into solitude for the purpose of escaping from men will fail at what he intends because he brings with him that which he tries to escape. But I think that one must have a regular practice of solitude to be "in the world" but not truly "of the world". Yet the only good reason for solitude is to learn to love God and man better and not to seek the first by ignoring the latter. Jesus would often sneak away to spend times in solitude seeking God. In these times we renew our minds, cleans our souls, align our perspectives with God's, and abide in Christ. These times give us clarity of purpose and a natural bent toward living righteously in a world that speaks shamefully of that which is honorable. To be in the world and not off it you have to get out of it consistently for the right reason.

    That is what I think it takes to be in the world but not off it. I'm a little gray on what you mean by gray areas.

    1. I like how you put it, that seeking solitude is a time to love God AND MAN better. I think we often think of times alone with God as a sort of refuge from man (which is sometimes kind of is), but the whole point in loving God more is to love man better. They are not two ends of a tug-of-war (i.e. "if I love man better, it detracts from my love of God" and vice versa).

      What I meant by gray areas are areas where we put God in a box ("God always works like THIS"). I've recently been through a struggle of faith when things have worked out contrary to the way I think God works and I've had to really check my understanding of God. His ways are not our ways. Just because He tells me that I should do things a certain way, doesn't mean He has to tell someone else to do things the same way. There's a difference between His law, and personal convictions, and sometimes people get confused as to which are which.

  2. And sometimes people follow their own desires. If someone can defend their decision with scripture and you can too and there is enough ambiguity to merit differing opinions then it is fine. I have had less disagreements with people where this has been the case than not. In the end I think of this:

    "So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, 'Lord, and what about this man?' Jesus said to him, 'If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!'"(John 21:21-22)