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"This World Is Not Our Home"

Dear LifeSharers,                                                                                                                                    June 2012

“This world is not my home,
I'm just a passing through.
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me
From heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home
In this world anymore.”

    Some of you remember those profound lyrics.  They’re taken from a bluegrass gospel song that’s been around for at least a century.  But even if the lines are unfamiliar to you, I trust that the philosophy they proclaim is not.  After all, it is a thoroughly biblical perspective, one that recognizes that the Christian is an alien and stranger in this cosmos, a spiritual sojourner whose primary purposes are to invest in heavenly values and to remain unstained by the world. 

    “Therefore, gird your minds for action.  Keep sober in spirit.  Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance but like the Holy One Who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.”  (I Peter 1:13-15)

    “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles…”  (I Peter 2:11-12a)

    “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:1-2a)

    “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God?  Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  (James 4:4)

    “Do not love the world nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  (I John 2:15)

    You get the idea.  Gird your minds for action in spiritual warfare.  Fix your hope on your heavenly rewards.  Make sure that your lifestyle is different from the world because you are aliens and strangers to it.  Don’t give in to the pressures of conformity but be transformed instead.  Don’t love the world; indeed, don’t even be a friend to it.

    Christians have been, by the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus as payment for our sins, forgiven and made new.  We have been redeemed and empowered.  As I Peter teaches so gloriously, we who were once dead in our sins and enemies of God are now “living stones” and “a royal priesthood” and “a holy nation.”  We are, as the apostle Peter says in I Peter 2:9,  a “peculiar” people. (KJV)   Different.  Unusual.  And, most definitely, counter-culture.

     Are we living like it?  Are we being true to who we really are – the holy saints that God made of us in the new birth?  Do our lives reflect this high position, this counter-culture calling?  In the use of our time?  In our finances?  In our relationships with one another?  In our relationships with non-believers?  In our entertainment choices?  In our work?  In our Bible study and prayer experience?  In our values and sacrifices and endurance of trials?  In our confidence and joy and hope?

    Way too many Christians in our day cannot answer these questions correctly.  We have become friends of the world.  We have made compromises.  We have lost our first love and with it, our allegiance, purpose and power.  We want our faith to matter in the times and fashion of our own choosing.  We want to put our Christianity into effect – not constantly and completely – but only part-time and piecemeal.  That’s not good enough.  That’s not who we were made to be.  That’s not the calling of the warrior who is armed with the Word of God, protected by miraculous armor, and empowered by the Holy Spirit Himself.

    But I hear someone say, “I’m only a miserable sinner saved by grace.  There is nothing good in me and I just get along the best I can.  And, in this troubled and nasty world, that’s about all that can be expected.”  Wrong.  Indeed, this is a thoroughly unbiblical response – one that sounds religious and humble but which is actually quite irreligious and self-centered.

    If you are a Christian then you were a miserable sinner.  Past tense.  But after the new birth, God imparted to you a clean heart.  He cast your sins into the deepest sea and gave you the Spirit.  He sanctified you.  Redeemed you.  Adopted you into His forever family.  And His Word is crystal clear in describing your present tense condition: holy, blameless, a royal priesthood, a people of His own possession.

    And this troubled, nasty world?  You do not need to be a slave to it.  You do not need to make any surrender to it at all.  You are citizens of another kingdom now and those old allegiances are broken.  And you are not only strangers and aliens to the world, you are set against it.

    “Therefore do not be partakers [of the world]…for you were formerly darkness but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of the light…And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness but instead even expose them." (Ephesians 5:7-8, 11)

    “You are the light of the world…Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14a, 16)

    Back in the 1960’s, I thought I had adopted a counter-culture identity.  Because of the music I listened to, the way I dressed and wore my hair, and eventually the attitudes I took towards sex, drugs and the law, I figured I was really flying free.  But the reality was that I was still a slave.  In fact, as the sixties rolled into the seventies, I was spiraling downward, losing even more control, becoming more desperately, decadently imprisoned by my sin and the tempestuous temptations of the world.  It was only when I turned to Jesus that I was set free.  Only in Christ was I converted, empowered and transformed to live a genuinely counter-culture life.  And effects of that transformation are ongoing.  For crying out loud, the effects of that transformation are forever!

    What does a counter-culture lifestyle involve?  Well, as it always has, it means that we preach the gospel and teach the Word in season and out of season.  But, in our day, it also requires us to oppose abortion, euthanasia, sexual promiscuity and perversion.  Furthermore, a counter-culture lifestyle leads us to diligently oppose religious syncretism and heresy, materialism, lawlessness, the usurpation of human rights by unjust government powers…and the constant pull of the world that makes priorities of pleasure, money, toys, comfort, popularity, and status.

    A full time occupation?  Yes. Challenging?  Of course.  But do-able?  You better believe it!  For we are, at our core, strangers and aliens to this world.  We’re set apart from it; liberated from its power; empowered even to come against its spiritual darkness by the light of Christ which we carry within our soul.  It’s in our “spiritual DNA” to live counter-culture.  So, by all means, let’s make sure we’re doing so – in every area of life. 

“This world is not my home,
I'm just a passing through.
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me
From heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home
In this world anymore.”

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P.S. Until next month, you can keep up with us at Vital Signs Blog and the Vital Signs Ministries web site.  And you can always join us too for prayers outside the abortion mill or for a “When Swing Was King” presentation at one of the 11 area nursing homes or assisted living centers that we do every month.  The schedule for both the sidewalk counseling and WSWK are on the website.