When I was in college, I took a class that required a weigh-in at the beginning of the quarter so that we could get an accurate body fat reading. The class was an exercise and health class, so don’t jump to body shaming here, I’m ok. What I learned from this was that my body type and body fat made swimming a difficult task for me. The water was not my home base. The relaxed gliding that others were able to accomplish has never been my way of swimming. I swim in order to not drown!
To this day, if I am going to be truly relaxed in the water, I am going to be swimming with a floatation assist. I can be in the water, but I am never “one” with the water. Similarly, Jesus called for His followers to be in the world but not part of the world.
“The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world…” – John 15:19
His point is not that believers should abandon the world, or more specifically the people of the world. His point is that there are different values governing the believer’s life and choices. These choices and the expression of these values create separation from the world around us. Jesus goes so far as to warn the disciples that the world would hate them. (The truth of this, is that they were all martyred but one.)
One of my greatest concerns for the church, by this I mean believers, is that we are becoming impossible to separate from the rest of the world. In our business practice, our personal lifestyles, our goals, and our objectives we have moved closer to a world that is moving further away from God. This is tragic of course for the church, but it is perhaps worse for the world.
When a distinctive voice is needed to indicate the direction to God and the peace that only he can offer, the church is worried about fitting in. By our cultural norms, Jesus was not “woke.” He said things that people needed to hear but were certainly “micro-aggressive.” He did not use his time to set the world right on thousands of issues that we hold dear. Jesus spent His entire life pointing to the exit sign.
He chose a way of life that was recognizable but not compliant with his culture, either Jewish or Roman. Jesus was a divisive character because He was outside the norm.
We need to be in the world, fully engaged with the saving of the people, the nurture of the planet, caring for the unfortunate to name a few. But our ultimate win is a person that chooses to get on the last bus off the planet in the end. We are set on a different purpose; we march to a different drumbeat. Living as a display of the love of God means doing a lot of good things, and Jesus did many many good things, but we are looking for an opportunity to point to God as the answer. He is the lover of our collective souls and heaven is the only functional solution to our problem.
We have this one life to live, live it imitating Jesus, and you will stick out because you love.