What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
WEEK 46: “IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF THE WORLD”
We often hear the admonition “Be in the world but not of the world,” We assume that it is a warning, that it means we should stay apart—isolate ourselves from evil, buffer ourselves and to stand far aside in from the problems and turmoil of the world.
Perhaps the statement should be viewed instead as two clear admonitions:
- Be in, be part of, your world so you can help and serve.
- Be not of the world in terms of its evil and its improper priorities.
Christ “came into the world.” It might be argued that he didn’t have to come, that he could have kept apart in the heavenly realms of righteousness and watched from a safe distance, but he did not. He came upon the world—and he was not only on it, he was in it. He lived in every part of it: the wicked part, the hypocritical part, the pious part.
Some were not comfortable about some of the places he went to. They “warned” him, they urged him to leave. He told them that a physician did not come to cure those who were well. He walked into the scorned publican’s house and later made the man an apostle. He walked through the despised Samaria. He showed by his life his love for all. He told his apostles (then and now) to go into all the world and teach the gospel to every creature (see Mark 16:15).
Christ was in the world: in the peasant’s world, the learned Pharisee’s world, the Roman world, the worlds of all men. Through his comprehension of the principle that “right has more power than wrong,” he was able to move in any circle, always lifting others up: never himself descending or being pulled own. How he must worry today about those who stay aloof from the “unworthy” when they might help to pull them up!
No one has ever been more “in the world” than Christ, for he cared for every person and every thing, even to the point of descending beneath them all. But no one has ever been less “of the world,” for Christ’s desires were never for the things “that moth and rust doth corrupt.”
Christ was so caught up in lifting the world up that it could never pull him down. Could it not be so with us if we followed him, followed his way of being in the world but not of the world?