Understanding Your Place in This World
I. What does Scripture mean when it refers to the world
The context of the word must determine the meaning of this word. Sometimes Scripture refers to the world as the created earth (Rom.1:20), sometimes as all the inhabitants of the earth (John 3:16), other times describing the kingdoms of man in this age that are in rebellion against God (Rev. 11:15), or to the corrupt moral system of man (1 John 2:15-16). However, no matter which world God is addressing, the important issue is how you will conduct yourself in this world.
II. Your primary calling in this world
You are called to be an ambassador and light for Jesus Christ in this world
(2 Cor. 5:18-20) (Matt. 5:14). Paul declares that you are to, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14-15). The most effective ambassador is one who shines the light of God’s love in the midst of a harsh and dark world. When people see you never complaining or fighting with others they know that there is something different about you that they want.
An ambassador is also to represent the will and purpose of his government as he or she speaks the words of his king. Each Christian is to preach the Gospel and make known to all men that Christ reigns and is coming again (Mark 16:15).
III. The essential commands necessary to fulfill this calling
A. Do not be conformed to this world
The apostle Paul declared, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). Here the apostle gives one the most important exhortations necessary to fulfill your calling as an ambassador and find the perfect will of God in your life. You must offer yourself to God as a living sacrifice and not be conformed to this world. The word conformed means to pattern yourself in mind and character to the ways of this present age. In other words, don’t live like unbelievers, rather, turn from every evil way of this world and allow your thoughts and character to be transformed by Christ and His Word.
B. Be not entangled in this world
In addition, Paul explains another essential aspect to fulfilling your position in this world. He declares that “no one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier”
(2 Tim. 2:4). The word entangle means to interweave or to braid together. The metaphor Paul uses here is that of a soldier battling forces seeking to destroy him. A soldier simply
can’t do two things at once. He must be a soldier or a civilian involved in the business of this life. This means that as Christians we must keep the lightest touch with this world as is humanly possible. We must be concerned with being a soldier of Christ in furthering His kingdom.
C. Keep yourself unspotted from the world
James also commands believers concerning their position in this world. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world”
(James 1:27). The word unspotted means to remain morally unblemished from this world and it’s evil. Therefore, for you to fulfill your calling as an ambassador you must not compromise your morals and values.
D. Friendship with the world
James also explains why a believer should not become entangled or blemished by this world. He declares, “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). The reason you must keep your distance from this world is because you are placing yourself into a hostile relationship with God. The world is in rebellion against God and if you choose the world’s side in the war you are alienating yourself from God.
E. Love not the world
Finally, the apostle John declares the ultimate imperative for your relationship with this world. “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. 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. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17). To love the world is why someone would be conformed to it, get entangled in it, find friendship to it, and why they would become morally blemished. Notice again that John makes it clear that love for the world and love for God is directly opposed to the other. You can not do both.
John also explains what motivates those in the world. People apart from Christ are driven by their desires for how they might satisfy the passions and pleasures of the flesh (lust of the flesh), a craving to possess the things that they see (lust of the eyes), and the constant drive for position, honor, and glory from men (the pride of life). These are the things that will can never satisfy a person’s soul and will all pass away one day.
IV. Separated but not isolated
Understanding your place in this world could be best be described by these two words; separated but not isolated. Paul declared to the Corinthian church that it was imperative that they be separate from this world. “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17). This separation is referring to the moral evil of this world. However, at the same time God has placed you in this world that you might be the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). Jesus prayed to the Father with this balance in mind. “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:14-15).
God doesn't want to remove you from the world but that you would be kept in the world to be His witness to this dark world. If you will follow the above commands you will be able to accomplish this task.
V. How to fulfill your calling
Simply do the opposite of the warnings above. Instead of being conformed to this world, allow the Holy Spirit to transform you and make you a godly individual. Instead of becoming entangled in the affairs of this life, keep as light a touch as possible on this world. Don’t become friendly with or love the world where you would become blemished by it, but take a strong stand to follow Christ and present His Word to this lost world as His light and ambassador.