Not Of The World But In It



A few years ago in the Body of Christ all over the earth a change began to occur -- not that there haven’t been changes in the history of the church since its beginning -- but this was something rather unique.


All over the earth, almost at the same time, people began to wake up.

Many of us began to realize how shallow our lives were,

and how tangled up in the world were our minds and spirits.


And it began to become clear that we were either going to have to commit ourselves, in a radical way, to Jesus or we were going to have to forget the whole thing.

That there is nothing in between.

We began to hear the call of the Spirit to

come out of Babylon”.

“To love not the world.”

Not to be conformed to its ways.

And so a new species began to appear on the surface of the planet among the people of God—uniform in spite of their varied backgrounds.


They began to realize it was necessary to live a life that was separate from this world.


They began to draw a sharp line between the Kingdom of God and

                                                              the kingdom of this age.


Communities of believers started popping up all over the planet made up of people whose hearts were set not on the treasures of this world,

               but on the treasure of God’s Kingdom.


And among these people, very often, there would be a worship that was truly heavenly. You’d walk into their midst and know you had stepped right into the atmosphere of heaven.


Many who will be reading these words have been touched by all of this.

Many of us have experienced radical change in our personal lives

as a result of this fresh call to commitment to the Lamb.


Our eyes have seen and our hands have handled the supernatural operation of the Spirit of God in the Body of Christ.


We have tasted the glory of the coming King in astonishing ways.

We have also seen visions of approaching days of trial that have shocked us and made us to know there is no way we can go back to that old life of compromise.


But now we are running into a new danger.


If the enemy can’t defeat us by making us worldly,

               then he’ll try to defeat us up by helping us to be “other-worldly”.


If he can’t destroy us by a life of compromise,

              then he’ll try and destroy us by a life of false separation.  


As evidence of this there are communities of believers who are raising up walls around themselves.


They are trying to serve God from behind walls, while attempting furiously to keep the world out. All their energy, and

             all their thoughts, and

             all their love,

is expended on the community on their side of the wall.


They are fully occupied looking after one another,

                           loving one another,

                           serving one another,

                           shepherding one another,

                           discipling one another.

Almost as if the Kingdom of God had already come here in its fullness and the world had  passed away.


Of course, we are told by the Spirit “to love not the world, neither the things that are in the world”.


And it is doubtless true that time and  again, a seed of God’s word has been choked out by

            the cares, and

             the  riches, and

             the pleasures of this life.


We are instructed to “come out of Babylon” and never go back there again.

We are not to be caught up in Satan’s world system.


But while all this is true, and

    while we are to be living radically different lives,

         we are, nevertheless, to remain in close touch with those people

         who are being ground down and messed over by the evil of the world.


“Go into the streets and lanes of the city”, and where is the city, but in the world?


“…and bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind”.


Now you can’t do that when you’re out of touch.


How are we ever going to be able to see the halt,

                                      the maimed, and

                                      the blind,

                                      much less go after them,

when our eyes are blinded by a  preoccupation with our own holiness or

                 focused solely on the condition of our own fellowship?


Jesus’ prayer in John 17 doesn’t just include the twelve, it includes us.


“But now I am coming to thee; and these things I speak

 in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in them-

 selves. I have given them thy word; and the world has

 hated them because they are not of the world, even as

 I am not of the world. I do not pray that thou shouldst

 take them out of the world but that thou shouldst keep

 them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even

 as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; thy

 word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, even

 so I have sent them into the world.” (vs.13-18)


We may not be of the world, but we are sure in it!

We’ve been sent into it.

And every time we try to escape the world by getting behind a protective wall,

we are running away, not from the world, but from the Son of God.


The quickest way for believers in Jesus Christ to get flaky is to break all contact with people who don’t believe in Jesus. Spend all your time with Christians. Surround yourself with a 24 hour a day Christian environment, and pretty soon you’re out of touch, not only with man, but with God.


The only people who can survive that kind of intense Christian atmosphere all the time are those who are recently born again.

Perhaps they are to stay inside that “hothouse” atmosphere for a brief time.

But most of us have been in the hothouse far too long

and need to be  getting out where we have been sent.


Otherwise we will wither away,

         we’ll dry up like the man who buried his talent.


You’ll hear people say, “Now wait a minute, you have no idea what kind of temptations there are out there. Nobody can survive out there in the world very long.”


What kind of God do you think you have?  

Don’t you think that the God who brought about the miracle of faith in your heart in the first place, and drew you to his Son in the first place,

is able to sustain you out in the world as you walk in his light?


Do you think this God is unable to preserve the life he brought forth in you?


“I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the

 world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one.”


That’s what Jesus prays for us.

That we  may be kept from the evil one.

Don’t you think the Father is able to answer that prayer?


God isn’t going to take us out of the world until our work is done.

But he is indeed going to keep us from the evil one,

provided we go along with his program.

Provided we fit in.


If we move in the will of God, we are invulnerable. Satan can’t touch us.

“He that  dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High

 shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say

 of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress”.  


He is our refuge, not those walls.

Not some other rules and regulations that we set up.


“He is my refuge, and my fortress: my God; in him will I

 trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the

 fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover

 thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou

 trust: his truth shall be they shield and buckler.” (Ps 91:1-4)


Satan absolutely cannot touch us and can’t destroy us provided we do two things.


Provided, first of all, that we dwell in the secret place of the Most High.


Which means, we go where we have been sent—out into the world.

If you turn around and run away,

if you hide behind walls,

surround yourself with a “Christian atmosphere,”

            very soon the protection of God is gone.

            The shadow of the Almighty withdraws.


We have to be physically present in the world, even though the evil one is going to try to tempt us to be physically withdrawn from the world.


We don’t like to be physically present near the halt, the maimed, and the blind. They make us uncomfortable.


 We don’t like to be around people who ruffle us,

                                                         who despise us,


so we’re going to stay in here and keep them out there.


But when we finally break down,

and do what we know God is calling us to do,

and move out physically, into the midst of the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind,

            immediately we begin to experience the presence of God around us as never before and   we are covered with the wings of God’s holiness.


We are to be mentally in the world.

The evil one tries to get us to develop a mentality which is utterly out of touch  and then convince ourselves that we are obeying Romans 12; “be not conformed”.


Pretty soon we are so out of touch, we don’t know any more how these people think or feel.


When our minds are so far away from the mind of the hungry man, or

                                              the sick woman, or

                                              the thief, or

                                              the addict,

we haven’t just lost touch with people,

         we’ve lost touch with our God.


We are like salt which has lost its savour, and our minds are stamped,

not with the mark of God,

      but with the mark of the beast which is indifference.   


And we are even to be spiritually in the world.

Lots of times we think, “Okay I’m down here, but my spirit is up there.”


In a sense that’s true.

But if it’s true, it’s like your spirit alternates as did Jesus’.


He was in heaven and on earth, in a sense, at the same time.

But his spirit was down here. Always present.


His spirit was ready to catch the desolate shrieks of the demon possessed and

the pitiful cries of the lepers and all these broken souls.


He was there and ready so that he could respond to those needs as they came. Whereas you and I are all too often totally unprepared.


We blow opportunity after opportunity.

When the cry comes we are just not there.

Our bodies are there, but

            our minds are spinning in neutral and

            our spirits are somewhere off where the devil lured us, up on “Cloud Nine” thinking we     are in ecstasy while we are actually in delusion.


We talk and theorize about healing, but

            when someone sick comes along we just don’t know what to do for them.


On the other hand, if our spirits are down on this earth where they belong,

in the name of Jesus, ready and waiting for these needs when  they come, healing will go forth. Life will flow out.


We will be preserved from the wiles of the enemy provided we are where we are supposed to be, which is in the world.


Secondly, we need to allow God’s truth to be our shield and buckler.


All through John 17 Jesus says,

“I have given them thy word…Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth.”


So that while we are in the world, God’s word is burning in us, keeping us alive.


            “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you…”

“It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the

 words that I have spoken are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

The picture we have here is not a bunch of saints huddled behind thick walls, reading their bibles.


Here we have the picture of saints who are out in the storm where the word of God is no longer just a book.


It’s alive.

Because when it speaks, I obey it.


The picture we have here is that of saints who have the word of God burning in their hearts as they move out there in the storm.


It’s when we are in the storms and we don’t know which way to go and

                                we have to cry out to God…

It’s when these friends of ours come at midnight and

                                we have nothing to set before them and,  

                                we, in desperation, have to cry our to God.. that the word of God begins to break open to us…

We understand its meaning as God speaks to us, and shows us.


 “Lord, speak to me, tell me, give me some bread to feed these hungry people”.


Then it happens.

We begin to hear the Shepherd’s voice.  

But we have to expose ourselves to the Word.


Our Lord was steeped in the scriptures.  

He was God the Son, but he was now flesh.

He went to the synagogue and he poured over the scriptures.

Jesus immersed himself in scripture just as you and I have to.

He kept the scriptures in his heart.

He loved them. We need to do the same.

The Word of God can’t sanctify us if we don’t expose ourselves to it.  


When we first became believers the Word was wonderful.

With great enthusiasm we hungered and thirsted for the Word of God,

                    we longed to hear God speak.


But after awhile we began to think we understood it all. “I’ve read it five times already. I know it.” And we began to dry up. We lost our zest for it.

May God restore us!


All through the Psalms we hear a tremendous thirst for God crying out.

“I will delight myself in thy commandments which I love.

 My hands also will I lift up to thy commandments which

 I love.”


Not just out in thin air, but to thy commandments,

                   to a spoken word,

                   to a command.


“And I will meditate upon thy statutes.”


The more deeply we are immersed in the valley of human need,

the more deeply we need to penetrate the blazing light of God’s spoken word.  


“As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them

 into the world.”


May God help us every single day to find that place where we literally touch the world. Some man, or woman, or child, whose wounds have not yet felt the balm of Gilead.


We’ll probably find ourselves doing less and less preaching, and

                             a great deal more listening, and

                             sharing of the things (even material things)

that we have, ministering to whatever that need might be.


If we haven’t found that place where our lives touch the lives of others in need, may God show us the steps we need to take.


And may God also bring us to the place where not one day goes by, without our being touched by the Living Word.


How in the world can we survive if  God isn’t speaking to us?

“Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent unto

 me: lest, if thou be silent unto me, I become like them

 that go down into the pit.” (Psalm 28:1)



If God isn’t speaking to us, we don’t live.

He will speak to us when we open our ears and our hearts.


In the days to come there will be casualties.  

There is a sifting of souls taking place at this very hour.


But those casualties  will be found mainly in these two places.

They will be found among those who are trying to escape the world

by hiding behind walls instead of going where God sends them;

And they will be found among those who have so hardened their hearts to

God’s word that they no longer hear him speak.


But “those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High”

            by going into the  world with their Lord.

And those who allow God’s truth to be their shield and buckler,

will not only survive, they will go from strength to strength, no matter what kind of storms come.


May we be counted among these people.