‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh’, 2 Cor. 10. 3.
Living in the world is a constant challenge for the believer. Paul reminds us, however, that we do not conduct our Christian lives by ‘the standards of this world’, 2 Cor. 10. 2 NIV. The Apostle John writes that we should not love ‘the world, neither the things that are in the world’, 1 John 2. 15, and to let the world mould us is also contrary to our Christian vocation, Rom. 12. 2. When James states ‘know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?’ Jas. 4. 4, he is not suggesting that believers should be isolationist. What all these writers are emphasizing is that as Christians we must not identify with the standards or priorities set by the world so that we become indistinguishable from it. The church of God must be truly a counterculture, and cannot live in close fellowship with God and, at the same time, have a mindset towards the world. Our Lord once warned His disciples about the serious incompatibility of serving two masters at the same time, Matt. 6. 24.
What does this mean for us in terms of evangelism? Although we place ourselves under the discipline of a Christian lifestyle, we cannot then simply ignore the world as if it did not exist, or disassociate ourselves from people, especially in terms of outreach. Merely preaching the gospel week by week, to believers and family members, is not a substitute for obeying the Great Commission to go out into all the world and preach the gospel, Matt. 28. 18-20; Mark 16. 15, which, from a local perspective, means reaching out into our communities. While the salvation of our own families is important, the idea that we withdraw from the world because we fear moral defilement from the unsaved will ultimately hide the gospel from those who are perishing, 2 Cor. 4. 3, and be no more than an in-house message for the initiated, which is the very antithesis of the universality of the gospel of the grace of God, Col. 1. 5, 6, 28. We are reminded in this context of the thought-provoking words of Hudson Taylor, ‘How sadly possible it is to delight in conferences and feasts of good things; to enjoy, in a way, all the ministry that is brought before us and yet to be unprepared to go out from and with these good things in self-denying efforts to rescue the perishing’. May we ever be mindful of our responsibility to go out with the precious seed of the gospel to a lost world.
Once again, we are very grateful to all those who have contributed to the continued success of the magazine over the past year, and we look to the Lord for His future blessing as we shortly approach a New Year.
Ministry Articles Editor
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