Are You in a Christian Bubble?

Posted: March 29, 2011 in church, culture, evangelism, missions

A Really Big BubbleWhat does it mean to be “in” the world but not “of” it?

This is a great question that comes up a lot.  I could take a crack at it myself, but I think Ed Stetzer has already done a fine job explaining this oft misunderstood issue.

The Scripture has a lot to say on the subject of “the world” that, on a cursory reading, can seem contradictory. Consider, for example, what the Apostle John says. In John 3:16 he wrote: “For God so loved the world…” But then in 1 John 2:15 he wrote: “Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in Him.” He records Jesus’ words in John 12:47, “For I did not come to judge the world but to save the world,” but relates Jesus’ admonition in 15:19, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

It seems like poor John can’t seem to make up his mind about “the world,” and whether we should love it or hate it.

Stetzer spends the rest of the article explaining how and why John was not confused.  He helpfully articulates two distinct uses of the word “world”: the people of earth and the attitude that rejects God’s love, law and leading.  With these two definitions in hand, Stetzer answers the question of how Christians can be “in” the world but not “of” it.

Describing a common misunderstanding of the Bible’s teaching, Stetzer writes,

Some of us will choose to not participate in any of the world’s systems, and opt for insulating ourselves in a self-made Christian bubble, a life constructed so that we can live out our days without ever even bumping into someone who doesn’t believe or live as we do. Safely detached from the spiritual lepers outside, we can glory in Christian preschool through graduate school, Christian music, Christian romance novels, Christian leadership books, and even Christian Halloween candy. Thank God for those Christian Yellow Pages. The only thing we will not have is the personal influence of the gospel in the lives of those who do not know Christ. It’s difficult to make disciples of people we won’t even talk to. In a perverse twist of our Lord’s expectation, many Christians find themselves of the world by means of some kind of pseudo-sacred imitation, but not in it.

I think Stetzer is right on with his observations and insights.  But don’t take my word for it – read the article for yourself!


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