I’m sure many of you have heard the expression in Christian circles, “Be in the world, but not of the world.” It’s another one of those bottom-line, semi-vague sayings that has a lot of meaning packed into one short statement; C.S. Lewis-style you could say.
“Yeah, yeah Rachel, I get it, understand it and heard it a million times before,” you might be thinking to yourself. In talking with others I find that many (myself included) often struggle with this “disconnect” between having the head knowledge versus it penetrating our hearts and what it looks like to live out that knowledge in our day to day lives. Putting “actions” (by the grace of the Holy Spirit) to our “words” (knowledge). We all like people who live intentionally, with integrity, who have “meat” to their words.
I’m sure many of you are thinking of Facebook in particular: friends who blow you away with their seeming zeal in quoting theologians and Scripture and yet you see no application in how they live during the week. I’m not implying what they’re saying is futile. The words are still just as true and can still be used to convict and edify others. We also have to guard our hearts in not doing the same thing because we too fail; it’s all too easy to despise. Instead we should love, have compassion for, and pray for them being humbled by the own condition of our hearts.
All this being said, I’ve noticed in my own experience that themes, trends, and philosophies in this culture can so easily take over the way we think and the things we pursue. I would like to point out two things: 1) these “things/values” might indeed be morally upright and sound appealing to our “appetites” 2) it’s subtle in taking a hold of your heart.
For instance, I’ll point out one of my own struggles as a young person in their 20’s (although I don’t think what I have to say next is limited to a certain age group), is that “I want to change the world”, “leave MY mark”, and maybe even be semi-famous. At times it causes me to build up this discontentment because my life doesn’t look like the vision I have for how my life should be right now. A lot of these ideas of “love” and “greatness for the good of others” come from popular songs, books and movies. Let me again point out that these aren’t necessarily “bad” things.
Right now, this is one of my favorite “feel good” songs. “I Was Here” by Lady Antebellum:
“I wanna do something that matters, say something different
Something that sets the whole world on its ear
I wanna do something better with the time I’ve been given
I wanna try to touch a few hearts in this life
And leave nothing less than something that says, ‘I was here'”
….sweetly and compelling Lady Antebellum crones. I found myself thinking on the way to work this morning, “Yeah I want to do more than ‘just pass through this life’ and want to leave my mark.” I mean, come on, everyone gets pumped up about those “from rags to riches” stories; people of extraordinary valor, talent and heroism.
As that desire sunk itself into my heart and mind, the Holy Spirit gently chided me. I realized my desires, though right, were focused on the wrong person. I was thinking all about MY glory the impact I could leave; selfishness, forgetting in my moment of pride that I can do nothing apart from Him. I was reminded of Matthew 6:24, “No on can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” My desire instead should be to make an impact of Him, a desire to be like Christ, to live for His glory, and to leave His mark.
It’s hard in this culture with it’s emphasis for instant gratification and comfort to view everything through the lens of eternity. Which will you choose? To leave perhaps a temporary great name for yourself or to make great His everlasting name? To leave YOUR mark or to leave HIS?
Shalom (meaning the presence of joy and how things ought to be),
Rachel B. Duke