Where do you get the unyielding strength to say “NO” to the temptations of the world that are constantly misrepresented as harmless? They wear a colorful mask on the surface, luring you in, but in truth are a dangerous snare. How do you get the steadfast power to fulfill your calling? How do you determine to live in a world that is shattered into so many pieces, and yet stand firmly planted on the side of righteousness?
We all struggle to understand if the life that we live is aligned with the will of God. As for me, once I knew that I was a child of God, loved and valued by Him, I was unstoppable. I was eager to know what my next step forward would be, now that I was wanting to live the life that God had planned for me, rather than listening to what the world wanted me to do. As I continued reading and studying His word, my faith grew stronger every day. I learned many lessons but was still thinking that I wasn’t ready to share what I had learned about the truth of God with others. Then the Lord graciously reminded me how He delivered me by revealing His light at night through dreams and visions, and during the day time through intellectual leaders, women’s study groups, my small group, and my prayer group. I prayed without ceasing for courage and strength to share His love with others. I no longer wanted to keep His love only for myself, selfishly storing His blessings wrapped up in a fancy box and placed on a high shelf. I didn’t need to hide His name any longer when speaking or writing. But still there was a part of me that didn’t know how to offer this precious gift to the world. I needed His strength and power. The Lord’s faithfulness and His timing always amazes me. God heard my prayers and read my thoughts. He told me during my daily devotion time, “True confidence comes from knowing Me. Your continual dependence on Me opens up the path before you. Keep your eyes fixed on Me – your Savior.”
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior: my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7)
I could hear the Lord’s message everywhere I went during this time – listening to church services, whenever I opened my Bible, and even when I had a conversation with someone. God was whispering in my heart, “It is time to go and let the world know what you have witnessed. I will be your strength and song of deliverance. I will always be with you and watch over you, as you go out and as you come in, I will meet all your needs according to My promises. Go and live life to the fullest – the life that I prepared for you in the real world. You can’t isolate yourself from the world. You heard My word, now go and deliver it. That is My purpose for your life.” God’s word has instructions on how to relate to the world: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by renewing your mind…..” (Romans 12:2).
Then I came across this famous phrase: “Be in the world but not of the world.” This phrase relates to the verse above and may be difficult to fully grasp. Hmmm, what does it mean to be in the world but not of the world? It is not an invitation. Rather, it is a simple recognition of our fallen world. It says, “Enjoy living in the world but don’t get caught up in what the world values.” So what are those worldly values and how can we be certain which ones are the right ones for us? I was gently reminded of how easily I can be enticed to follow the pattern of this world in an incident that occurred recently.
If you are a woman and reading this, you will understand what I’m about tell you. I had been seeing false eyelashes, and eyelash extensions everywhere. As my lashes are not as full as I’d like them, I thought, “That is a great idea! They looks so beautiful on everyone I see. Everyone is doing it, why not me?” Without thinking whether or not these eyelashes would be the right thing for me, I went to a professional and had them glued on. The eyelash expert warned me not to touch them or try to take them off, because I would pull my own eyelashes out with them. A couple of hours later my eyes started itching. I was having a bad reaction to the glue. The itching became very intense and my eyes started burning. You can image how I felt! I was so mad at myself for rushing into this choice without considering the consequences. I had to live with eye discomfort for another two weeks. Live and learn! My mistake was hastily following my worldly desire and I paid the price for my decision.
There is nothing wrong with wanting or having nice things, as long as the desire doesn’t override the will of God for our lives. “Being in the world” includes interacting with others and enjoying the things of the world. God has given us beautiful creations – great places to see, delicious food to enjoy from different places in the world, beautiful clothing, parties, movies, etc. But the second part of the phrase, “Not of the world” means different things in different situations, For example, don’t go to a bad movie just because someone in Hollywood produced it. Don’t hangout with people or in places which expose you to any form of evil. If you are a student, don’t join with groups that behave badly just because it is trendy. Don’t spend your money on a fancy car or clothes that you can not afford. Basically, Romans 12:2 teaches us to live in the world but stay clean from the stain of it. Mostly, we must consider carefully the thing we are about do. Is it aligned with God’s truth and His will for us? Pray about it, and wait to see whether this choice is for us or not. Bring it under the light of God and test it.
“Set your mind on the things above, not the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
The Bible translates Romans 12:2 like this; “Our refusal to conform to the behavior of this world’s values, must go deeper than the level of behavior and customs of the world. Be transformed by renewing our minds. It is possible to avoid most worldly customs and still be proud, selfish, stubborn, and arrogant. Only when Holy Spirit renews, re-educates, and redirects our minds are we transformed.” Renewing our minds “switches the channel” of our thinking.
God spoke to me through this verse, giving me a deep understanding. I felt like I was born for this moment, ready to gird my waist with the truth of God and go face the world. I asked the Lord to help me according to His will. He asked me to listen to Him carefully – to watch how He was going to fit my request to His plans. I was tuned in to His Voice. He warned me, “Your walk back to the world will be a very difficult and bold walk. Some people may not understand it. They have eyes to see, but cannot see, they have ears to hear, but they cannot hear. But I will be with you every step of the way, as I have since you were born. I will never leave you or forsake you for that is my everlasting promise to whoever believes in Me.”
“Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.”(Ezekiel 12:2)
Before I headed back to the world, I looked in the Bible for more guidance and words of wisdom and encouragement. His word was saying that the Lord offers the bread of life on His one hand and the living water on His other hand with instructions (God’s word) to His followers; “A lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105).
His words were saying to me, “You will need spiritual nourishment from this point on. Not only will you need it for yourself, you should be offering it to others with love, compassion, and patience. For I have crowned all my children with love and compassion.” He provided all I needed and more. He reminded me through my daily readings, “Make sure that you put Me in the far-front of your mind both day and night. Then you will be equipped to handle whatever comes your way. You will still have some difficulties in your life, but you will have Me by your right side. Together we will push back the darkness and together we will carry your burdens. For I am the Light of the world. This is how I live in the world, through you and other believers. Some people might reject you, just as they rejected Me. Do not let your heart be troubled, for I have overcome the world. (John 14:1) I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) He continued, “If you are not adequately equipped for the journey for which you are heading, you will grow weary and lose heart. Fix your eyes on Me, the author and perfecter your faith, for I am seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The Lord warned me not to chase after worldly pleasures, for the pleasure of this world is no longer my calling in life, but rather worship of God alone.
I started praising Him, saying, “You are Love, You are peace, you are life and hope. You alone refresh and restore. I give you all I have, the good, the bad, and especially my best. Have your way in my heart. Thank you for all you have done and for all you are going to do in my life!!!”
(Acts 2:28) “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”
Now I’m telling the whole world through my blog (which is only one of many ways) about the light of God. He wants us to live in a way that is set apart from those outside of the faith, and be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness. And we are being changed into the image of Christ, causing our desire for the things of this world to become less and less as we gain maturity in Christ.