If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Jesus made it quite clear that we are not to behave like the world around us because He chose us out of the world. Our faith should be reflected in our behavior. It sounds easy enough, right? Just don’t behave like the unsaved people around you. Don’t lie, cheat, cuss, or steal like they do. We live in the world but we’re not of the world. And that’s all there is to it. Right?
I recently had an experience at my job that God used to show me just how easy it can be to get lured into worldly behavior, and not even realize it. A situation came up in which I thought one of my co-workers may have been seriously injured, or worse. He was working inside the fuel tank of one of our aircraft. Entry into aircraft fuel tanks is strictly regulated under confined space guidelines. There are precautions and procedures that must be observed. At lunch time, we stopped work and went to the break room to eat lunch. After lunch however, my co-worker was nowhere to be found.
There was no panic at first but after searching for him for several minutes, things became more frantic. I began to fear the worst, that he had gone into the fuel tank alone, without an attendant, and had been overcome by the fumes of the residual fuel in the tank. Potentially, that can be lethal. The air in the tank has to be constantly monitored. Just as I was about to call for a tank rescue team, one of the lead mechanics spoke up and said “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. I sent him upstairs to do some online training.”
I was relieved that my partner wasn’t laying dead or unconscious in the fuel tank, but I was also a little upset with the lead mechanic who failed to let me know where my co-worker was. At this point, someone suggested that I go back in the office and give the lead mechanic a piece of my mind for not letting me know what was going on. The more I thought about it, the more it sounded like a good idea. It really was a serious safety issue after all. He was wrong and needed to be told so! I had every right to jump down his throat! Or so I thought.
Being the type A that I am, I was about to go get in the lead mechanic’s face when the Holy Spirit intervened. It dawned on me at that moment that I was being influenced by worldly principles rather than Godly principles. I was about to handle the situation the way the world says to handle them. I was about to do what seemed right in someone else’s eyes, instead of doing what was right in God’s eyes. And as I began to think about this some more, I realized this is how the world exerts its influence on us without us even realizing it.
Worldly influences don’t always come at us in ways that are obvious. It’s not always lying, cheating, cussing, or stealing that gets us in trouble. Sometimes the pull of worldly influences can be quite subtle. We might find ourselves in a situation that, from our point of view, requires an immediate response. The problems arise when our response is not consistent with Biblical teaching. We might convince ourselves we’re in the right, and we’re going to say what needs to be said no matter what anyone thinks! Guess what guys? That’s how the world thinks. We’re not to be like the world, are we?
The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In a nutshell, Paul is telling us to live God’s way, not the world’s way. We are not to conform to the world’s standards. The world says If anyone wrongs you or offends you in any way, blow up on them, get in their face, tell them off….. because it’s your right! However God says, “I taught you how to handle those situations. You surrendered your right to get even when you surrendered to my Son.”
Are there situations in life that require a response? Yes, and this was one of them. But we have to respond God’s way. In the end, this issue was resolved. It was handled through proper channels. No one got jumped on. No tempers were lost. And everyone knows how this is to be handled going forward.
The Bible tells us 1 John 5:
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
We have to remember, we have overcome the world. We need not be troubled by the ways of the world, or be influenced by them. In Ephesians chapter 5, we are urged to be imitators of God and I love how it’s worded in the New Living Translation:
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.
Personally. I think the example of Christ beats the example of the world hands down!