unstained ≠ unengaged AND engaged ≠ enmeshed

the opposite of worldliness is not an unengaged life that escapes from the world; the opposite of worldliness is an unstained life that engages the world with the counter-cultural gospel of jesus christ! 


how we theologically understand and practically live out the essence of being “in” the world but not “of” the world is of paramount importance in terms of whether our lives will be unstained and unwasted or they will be enslaved to the “two-bit, low-yield, short-term, never-satisfying, person-destroying, god-belittling pleasures of the world” (to use a john piper phrase).   

if we are going to make an impact for christ in our world, we have to be in it but not of it.  we have to be “unstained from the world” (james 1:27)!  we have to get this right.  and i fear most of us, including myself, are not getting it right and are not making the radical, counter-cultural lifestyle choices that are necessary to show the world that christ is our supreme treasure, not money or possessions or position.  we far too often hope in the same worldly things non-believers hope in (e.g., our riches, our resumes, our real estate, our recliner, etc.).  we buy into the same quest for the american dream – i.e., a life that is comfortable and carefree and one in which wealth is accumulated – and we opt out of any sacrifice and suffering to which christ might be calling us for his name’s sake.  we are too much like the world.     


i am not saying that we can ignore the world or our culture.  we cannot.  we must know it, but we must not love it.  we must identify with it, but we must not be identical to it.  we must embrace people, but we must not espouse their worldview.  “unstained” does not mean unengaged, uninvolved, uncaring, unknowing, or uninterested.  this was not jesus’ way and it must not be our way.  at the same time, we cannot allow our unstained engagement to lead us into unbiblical enmeshment in the ways of the world that dishonor christ. in all areas of our lives, we must be unstained from the world while at the same time being in the world as witnesses for christ to those who need to have their eyes opened to the glory of god in christ (acts 26:17-18; 2 corinthians 4:2-6).  what a challenge! and what a tension!

jesus was in the world, but not of the world.  and he was unstained. what about you and me?


~ by david on April 24, 2008.

One Response to “unstained ≠ unengaged AND engaged ≠ enmeshed”

  1. […] to the barrage of banality and blatant sin that we see creeping up on us every day as we seek to be in but not of the world. we are more eager than ever to wield the word in the war against […]

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