Does God want his children involved in the activities of our world? And if so, just what should that entail? This is a question that ought to be of concern to every Christian.
God certainly doesn’t want us to be involved in the world’s thinking and activities in an immoral way. This is why Paul wrote the church at Rome to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
But some have thought Christians should avoid as much contact with earthly things as possible, even going to extremes.
One example is that of a fifth-century Syrian monk who, because of his great desire to be faithful, actually lived at the top of a 60-foot tower for 30 years! In the 1800s, a Tennessee preacher taught that Christians should abstain from voting, since our citizenship is in a heavenly country. (Note Philippians 3:20.)
These extremes aside, although we live in the world, we are not to have worldly values. We will be involved in it one way or another. But how? Two biblical principles, already touched on, will help answer this important question for the Christian who sincerely wants to do God’s will.
First, we must remember that we are to live a life that is separate spiritually from those who are not servants of God. As mentioned, though we are “in the world,” we must not be “of the world.” In praying to his Father, Jesus said of his apostles, “[T]hey are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:14-15).
Jesus’ followers are the “salt of the earth” and “of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). He wants to use us in a positive way in the world. Not only are to love God with all our being – we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40) and treat others as we want them to treat us (Matthew 7:12). Our godly example isn’t to be one of proud superiority, but of humility and selflessness for others (Galatians 6:1-9).
Second, even though he lives in a physical world, the child of God is a citizen of a better country. Paul encouraged the church of the Roman city of Phillipi by telling them “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
Our loyalty is to the ruler of that spiritual country, and our kinship is with our fellow citizens — that is, other Christians. As a favorite hymn, popularized by Jim Reeves, says,
“This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through / My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.”
As we pass through this present world, we look forward with eager anticipation to the glories of the next. Like the faithful descendants of Abraham, we “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).
Meanwhile, we can look for every opportunity to glorify God and serve others, involving ourselves in our world in the very best ways possible.