by Anne Lang Bundy
What is the difference between “in the world” and “of the world”?
~ Max, Ormond Beach, Florida
Unless we understand that "the world" is God's confirmed enemy, the answer won't matter.
Planet Earth and creation belong to the Creator. The world is the system, standards and society of Earth, which all oppose the Creator with rebellion, disregard, and open hostility. Numerous Scripture passages about the world include statements such as:
We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
~ 1 John 5:19
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
~ James 4:4
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
~ 1 John 2:15
People of the world and people of God's kingdom may be identified by what they value:
• this life and its physical, temporal pleasures—or eternal life and its spiritual rewards which begin now and endure into eternity;
• darkness with its ignorance and immorality—or light with its knowledge of God and His holy righteousness;
• receiving praise—or giving God praise
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
~ 1 John 2:16 (NKJV)
To answer the original question, few metaphors are as vivid as a ship in the sea likened to a Christian in the world.
God places His people throughout the world to make Jesus known. A Christian who is isolated from the world is like a ship which has been dry-docked—it may be a safer ship, but it has become useless. On the other hand, a ship put to good use spends plenty of time in the sea, and cannot help but get the sea on it and even in it.
How much sea in the ship is too much? A little salt water may corrode metal and eat sails. Some water in the hold may ruin cargo. A lot of water makes the ship less seaworthy, and may even sink the ship in a storm.
The sea must be kept out of the ship which is in the sea.
How much world in the Christian is too much? The world on us may corrupt our understanding of God's Word and ways. Some world in our heart compromises what we value. Lots of the world in us means we'll experience anxiety rather than peace, despair rather than joy, apathy rather than love. When one of life's storms hits, we'll go down quickly. (Matthew 7:24-27)
The world must be kept out of the Christian who is in the world—who is there to bring God's light and salvation to those drowning in the darkness.
© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source: hydrolance.net