New Year Thoughts: In The World vs Of This World
New Year Thoughts: “In The World vs Of This World"
By Sam Morse
Now I am not sure if this is more of a personal experience with religion...or perhaps more people have felt this way. There is this isolation mentality that grows as one matures within the Christian church. The growing attitude that I had was almost that to be a Christian meant to be separate from the world system. I remember always hearing people say, "You are in the world but not of this world" (which I did not realize till I got older is not actually a direct quote from the bible).
So, I found myself not caring overly about the institutions around me as much as I should have been. Yes, I still needed to be educated and have a job...but my priority was my faith. Yes, it was important to be politically conscious...but most likely with an emphasis towards my faith only. You can see how even being slightly involved socially could always be pushed back to the isolationist mind set of fundamentalist faith.
When your mindset is trained to believe in word for word belief in religion...with all the spiritual grandiose ideas it comes with (angels...demons...etc), then things like local politics, world politics, etc. can become a second thought. Why deal with the present when you are considering the eternal?
Now don't get me wrong my faith is still part of my life...but now in a much different way. The verse that I believe inspires the idea of "You are in the world but not of this world" is this one. I will give the NIV translation (my bible as a teen) and the Message translation (my adult bible).
John 15:19 (NIV): 19 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. That is why the world hates you.
John 15:18-19 (The Message): 18-19 “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.
I truly believe that the existence of a higher power (which cannot be proven) would be much greater than us...much smarter than us...and its core foundation is that of love. It's is why I am constantly drawn back to Jesus, because the core of his message is the non-violent, loving, forgiving nature of God. Jesus was very much interested in the present problems of his culture around him, and that to bring the "Kingdom of God" into a world culture would have to have its foundation built in love.
So being involved in present day situations is absolutely part of having faith to me now. Pushing towards a country/world that is non-violent...that cares for the sick...that promotes equity/equality for all races, sexes, creeds, religions and sexuality's (just to name a few lofty but very doable world goals). I really personally believe Jesus knew that when people start standing up for what is right...for what is the loving choice...that people would hate that idea! We would want to hold on to our "loveless/godless" nature of violence, oppression, and closed mindedness... and the result for any kind of change toward love would be that people would hate you and fight against you. I mean just taking a moment of self-examination, I am very aware of how much I personally hate change.
Now I can't fix my countries problems myself...but just as I believe faith is a personal journey, I also believe that personal change is how the country changes as a whole. It's kind of a faith based butterfly effect. I have to be constantly willing to grow, learn, and be part of the social dialogue for change. I am in this world but I do not have to take part in the world’s worst qualities just because they were the norm before me. As an individual, I can always remind myself on a daily basis to choose the unchanging eternal power that is love, and to attempt as best I can to shed the worst qualities I carry from past social/cultural mistakes and misconceptions.
It is a life changing idea that has lasted through thousands of years. You can always choose to turn away from your worst qualities and turn towards love.
Now to only hope and pray that I don't get in my own way...