The World: 70 Things Every Man Needs to Know
68. The World
Excerpted from Pastoring Men, Moody Publishers.
A lot of men don’t understand their relationship with the secular world. There are four stances men can take toward the world:
- Withdraw (like the Essenes, they err toward legalism)
- Embrace (like the Sadducees, they err toward licentiousness)
- Overthrow (like the Zealots, they err toward lawlessness)
- Engage (like Jesus and Paul, they have a correct stance on liberty)
Jesus does not want to take your men out of the world; He wants to take the world out of your men. In John 17:15 He prayed, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”
But Jesus also sends us “into” the world (John 17:18). Jesus did not come to abolish culture. Many men are convinced they are going to heaven, but are content to let the world go to hell. Christianity is lived “inside” cultures. Paul was more than willing to accommodate–make that engage–the culture:
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Corinthians 9:20-22)
Why was Paul such a chameleon? Because he understood that Christianity is not a culture of its own. Christianity is lived “inside” cultures. It is not our assignment to create a Christian culture. Our assignment is to represent God within the culture. To do that, we have to go “into” the culture. On matters not specifically commanded or prohibited by Scripture, we are free to adapt to the culture. We don’t require the culture to adapt to us.
#449 © 2011. Patrick Morley. All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced for non-commercial ministry purposes with proper attribution.