And 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.
In the World, Not of the World
It is so easy to have the world rub off on us, isn’t it? I mean that we can grow just as cynical as the world and respond to the world in the way that they treat us. Today, Christian bashing is a popular thing on television comedies, on the news media, and even at the water cooler at work. How do we respond to living in the world and still not being like the world (1 John 2:15)? If we were part of the world, the world would love us, but since we’re not, let’s face it: they’re going to hate us (John 15:19). But that’s okay because they hated Jesus, too. It could be that our Christian lifestyle convicts their conscience. We must respond with gentleness because if not for the grace of God, we would be treating Christians the same way that they treat us. Knowing this, we are in no way superior to them; we just have a superior God Who saved us. That’s the only difference between us and the world.
Conformed to His Image
I recently spoke with a very hostile nonbeliever, who was very antagonistic toward Christianity, who said that she cannot believe in God. She kept criticizing Christians over various issues, and she was right on some of the things, but I told her that none of us are perfect. We’ve only been forgiven by a perfect God and made perfect in His sight because of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21), and that’s all that matters. I told her that what a person believes doesn’t change what is true. Hundreds of years ago, most people believed that the world was flat, and to the naked eye, it sure looked like it, but their belief didn’t change the world from being spherical to flat. Truth is never affected by what someone believes. Even so, I responded with a rational explanation for a Creator but did so out of gentleness and respect, as we are commanded to do (1 Pet. 3:15). That’s all we can do and pray that God would grant them repentance (2 Tim. 2:25).
Pursuing His Righteousness
It is a constant battle between our old man or woman and our being new creatures in Christ. Paul struggled with this even after conversion (Rom. 7:15). No matter how the world treats us, we must continue to seek godliness and respond with love and gentleness, even while fleeing the sinful pulls of the flesh (1 Tim. 6:11). Remember that God’s wrath was upon us at one time (John 3:36b), but He treated us with gentleness (Psalm 18:35), knowing that we had not yet been changed into new people in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), so we ought to treat the nonbelieving world with the same gentleness that we ourselves were treated by God. Does the world affect the way we act in gentleness or the lack thereof? If most of us were honest, I believe we’d have to say yes, but if we have perspective, maybe it’ll make us respond in a much different way.
A Closing Prayer
Great, righteous God in heaven, You are so kind to me and didn’t give me what I deserved but instead sent Your Spirit to make me a new man in Christ. So help me gain perspective so that I can treat others with gentleness and respect and not treat them as they so often treat me, and in Jesus Christ’s holy name I pray.
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