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Next Step – Day 26

Next Steps

A 30-DAY GUIDE FOR NEW BELIEVERS
by JOHN D. BECKETT
DAY 26 IN, BUT NOT OF …
How do I maintain my equilibrium in daily living?

One of the great dilemmas of the Christian life is to know how we should relate to the world around us. For me, this has been a lifelong challenge. As I said earlier, I know I have been “called” to the business world. Yet with that call I am functioning daily in a non-Christian environment. I often interact with people who don’t know Christ, and may not have the slightest interest (they may even be antagonistic to my beliefs). I have to deal with ideas and ideals that are steeped in materialism, selfishness and greed. I work alongside those with lifestyles and habits that are contrary to biblical patterns. The “fallen world” is never far away.

We can err in two ways as we try to navigate the troubled waters of the world around us. One is to isolate — a direction taken in the extreme by those who have joined various monastic orders down through history. Such an approach may indeed keep us separated from the messy world about us. But if our isolation robs others of the witness of a Spirit-filled follower of Jesus, isn’t that selfish on our part?

The other error is to assimilate — to be so much like those around us there is no visible difference. This is often the mindset of believers who are living two lives, a religious life (say at home and on weekends) and a workplace life, where spiritual focus is muted for the sake of work in the “real world.” In the closing book of the Old Testament the prophet Malachi prophesied that there would one day be a clear distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous, between those who serve the Lord and those who do not (see Malachi 3:18). Our lives should reflect that distinction. We should be different in ways that are important, yet approachable and accessible in ways that engage us in the lives of others.

Jesus both modeled and instructed an approach in which He neither isolated nor assimilated. He continually interacted with people where they were, in the “marketplaces” of His day. He drew His closest associates from trades and professional people, and His teachings centered around the everyday world — “a sower went out to sow,” “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant” (see Matthew 13:3.45). Although Jesus fully engaged the world around Him, He did so without losing one iota of His devotion to His Father or deviating in the slightest from His integrity or values.

Jesus’ teachings lined up to His personal example. For example, He prayed for His disciples, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). He instructed His followers: “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). (Salt has cleansing, flavoring and preservative qualities, but does no good if it is confined to a box or bottle.)

You have not been given a new life in order to isolate, nor have you been transformed only to assimilate. You are called to Christ, first to be His — heart, soul, mind and strength — and then commissioned to go out in His power to a needy world. As Paul said, “We are ambassadors for Christ … workers together with Him” (2 Corinthians 5:20,6:1).

Billy Graham likens your role in the world to that of the Gulf Stream as it flows through the chilly waters of the Atlantic Ocean: “The Gulf Stream is in the ocean, and yet it is not a part of it. Believers are in the world, and yet they must not be absorbed by it.” The warmth of the Gulf Stream profoundly affects the climate of many parts of the world. In fact, palm trees grow off the coast of Scotland, while further east, at the same latitude, Siberia experiences some of the world’s harshest winters. You, as with the Gulf Stream, are to retain your identity and purpose, but also affect the surrounding climate, where you live and where you work. You are in the world but not of it.

Key Scripture As you sent Me into the world I have also sent them into the world (John 17:18).
Key Thought I may be the only bible my neighbor ever reads.
 
Copyright © 2006 by John D. Beckett

Since we may be the only bible my neighbor ever reads, how are we doing? It’s hard to not be of this world; but we must stay focused on Him and in His Word in order to endure and perservere being in this world. Honestly, I’m not being the best bible I can be. There are many things personally that I need to work on, but I can say – I thank God because I am growing and not where I used to be! I need to show more loving kindness with my actions and words… mostly I have, but there are times when my frustration and anger REALLY show; and that is not what God would want me to do. I need to focus on Him more, and rely on Him to bring me through the tribulation of the frustrations and anger.

Walking this journey with my son: He said, “I need to think before speaking, acting, and being… pray to Him to help me be the person He wants me to be – more often.”  

I thank Him for walking through this journey each day with me and my family. Guiding us in how He wants us to be and helping us to grow closer in relation with Him everyday.

With His Love, HL

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