“In the world, but not of the world” …. One of the most famous statements spoken, but one of the most difficult to understand. What does it mean to be living in this world, but have a purpose greater than the world can contain? Much of the time, people often focus on themselves –what can I do to improve myself, how can I enjoy myself, what is the best way to make sure that I am taken care of in the future – such thoughts and plans often dominate the mind. But the statement spoken by God still
When He spoke this word, He was able to turn His disciples’ focus away from the temporary and onto the eternal. In saying this, God was instructing His disciples to understand the meaning and purpose that they were called to. “If the world, hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world…”, He said to His disciples.
This is a hard lesson to learn; mainly because most people try to gain the acceptance of others by compromising their character; but still fail to have any real purpose in life. The unpopular kid at school will disobey their teacher just to fit in with the popular kids; while the professional at the office will bend the rules as part of the ‘company culture’. But they are left feeling empty inside, because they have put their soul is at stake. What God warned His disciples about was actually for their good. No
amount of compromising can improve one’s character – but the soul that is accepted before God as right in His sight also becomes a witness to others.
So what does it mean to be in the world, but not part of it? Simply put, it means being able to relate to others in a way that is an example for them to follow. It also means being able to know your purpose, when others don’t seem to know their own, and being able to learn how to be humble, when others are unware of their own worldly tendencies. Perhaps it is adifficult way to live, but the alternative is more difficult to handle; as God says, “What good is it to gain the whole world, yet lose your soul?” It is wise to listen to the advice of God and live in a way that reflects a different type of living – one that follows a greater example and makes the world around you take note.