My Confused Thoughts on Being “Not of This World”

Back when I was in junior high, my youth group got these fantastic matching T-shirts, made in true early-90’s style. They were white, with multi-colored neon graphics, announcing the name of our youth group on the front, and had a large picture and a portion of verse on the back: “Not of this world” (can’t remember the reference).

I wore that shirt for years, and those words stuck in my mind. Not of this world.

I’ve often wondered what it actually looks like in real life, to be “not of this world.”

This world is very confusing. It would be easier if things were always black and white, but there are a lot of gray areas, and it feels as though all gray areas are being thoroughly explored, and what used to be black and white is not anymore.

How do I live a loving, glorifying-to-God kind of life? When do I stand up for truth, and when do I step back to allow people the free-will to make their own choices?

How do I love a lost world without loving it too much and getting sucked in to the mess? How do I wade through the mess, when lots of the time, I feel like I’m a mess myself?

How do I share a message of hope and peace with people who are lost, when it’s judgmental to see them as lost? And how do I share answers to searching people’s questions without sounding like I think I have all the answers, because I definitely don’t?

There are so many big issues going on around us, and so much of the time, I feel like I’ve got an opinion, but I don’t have a clue what to do with it. Sometimes I have no idea if my opinion is even a good opinion.

I recently came across this blog post about same-sex marriage, and found it very interesting, especially this quote at the end:

God does not need me to defend marriage. He does not need me to block other people’s decisions. He does not need me to wade into a culture war or gang up on a minority or sow seeds of discord and fear. He does not need me to defend Him, my understanding of His best or even my way of doing life. I have much to learn.

Oh, I have so much to learn too.

(If you do happen to check out the article, I’ll just say that I don’t agree with absolutely everything, but she has a lot of good stuff to say, and she did get me thinking.)

Some people would think that God and marriage, among other things, need defending – that we’re not truly following Him if we don’t defend Him. But when does defending just become arguing or attacking? What is the difference? Can I “defend” by the way I live out my faith? Does that count?

It’s as though witnessing has become something where we try to force others to live by our moral standards, and somehow hope that along the way, they will “become Christians” by osmosis.

Why in the world would someone who doesn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus want to live by the same moral standards as someone who knows Him deeply and intimately? There should be a radical, obvious difference between the two.

I’m frustrated with my need for more control than just demonstrating that difference. I’m frustrated with my judgmental spirit. I’m frustrated with my discomfort around anyone who doesn’t make the same moral choices that I do.

I’m frustrated with my lack of ability to just love, regardless of what kind of choices a person makes, or what kind of lifestyle they live.

I’m frustrated with my desire to “block other people’s decisions”, and calling it “standing up for the truth”. Is there a good way to stand up for the truth without bulldozing over people, forgetting to see them as people?

And yet it feels like loving others enough to give them freedom to choose is seen as being complacent, wishy-washy, “anything goes”.

Another quote from the same blog post asked this question:

What is the Christian response here? (When Brian and I were talking about it last night, I posed that question and he laughed in my face. “You mean, what’s A Christian response. That’s the whole point of the unity/disunity thing: there is no one Christian response to anything. Ever.“)

What is my Christian response going to be?

So I look at my 500+ words I’ve typed as I’ve sat here wondering, and I ask myself what it all means. What do I want to do in this world that I am not of? I want to become a shining light of love. I want to love Jesus so much that it doesn’t matter if I don’t know all the answers, so much that other people can see Him in me. I want to love Him so much that in the end, what matters most is that I’ll be with Him, and all the confusion and mess of this world will melt away. Is that a cop-out?

I hope, really, really hope, that if I keep my gaze on Jesus, that as I go through each day, I will learn to naturally make good, loving, godly choices. That people will pass through my gaze on Jesus, and loving them will become one and the same as loving Jesus.

I really don’t know how to do this whole thing right. I keep praying and reading and learning, and hopefully I’ll always be a work in progress.

There. Those are my rambling thoughts.

Anyone else ever feel like it’s a confusing mess to get through? Share your wisdom with me…