How Christians can live in a non-Christian culture

Yesterday we discussed a post from my colleague Mark Mitchell:  The Culture of Hospitality | Front Porch Republic.  I’d like to focus on one line that he cites from the Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus written in the 2nd century A.D. (or maybe even earlier).  It describes how the very earliest Christians lived in the Roman Empire:

“they marry, as do all [others]; they beget children but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed.”

Isn’t this the same thing Christians are called to do today against the same cultural pressures?  Get married; back then even the Roman pagans did this, and that might change.  But whatever happens, Christians will still practice marriage and cultivate families.  Beget children and do not destroy them; that is,  don’t get abortions. Don’t have “a common bed”; that is, don’t be sexually promiscuous.  But do have “a common table”; that is, be hospitable to all, inviting even non-believers into your home so as to get to know them and so they can get to know you and your faith.

Keeping these simple distinctives, Christians would eventually win over the Roman empire.  Maybe if we did the same things, Christians might eventually win over the American empire.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    We might, we might not. But again, as with the issue of hospitality, we do the right thing because it is the right thing as ordained by God, not because it may or may not change the culture. When you start looking at it that way, you start taking steps in the direction of Arminianism/Wesleyanism, i.e.-that it’s “all up to you” and that God is sitting back wringing His hands in hopes that our good behavior and words will win the day out.

    Ought we be morally different from our culture? Absolutely. But we dare not venture upon the thin ice of moral pragmatism (we will change the culture because we are morally right). Because if we do the right thing and the culture doesn’t change, we’ll be tempted to think that we are in the wrong for doing the right thing, and we’ll take matters into our own hands while forsaking God’s sovereignty.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    We might, we might not. But again, as with the issue of hospitality, we do the right thing because it is the right thing as ordained by God, not because it may or may not change the culture. When you start looking at it that way, you start taking steps in the direction of Arminianism/Wesleyanism, i.e.-that it’s “all up to you” and that God is sitting back wringing His hands in hopes that our good behavior and words will win the day out.

    Ought we be morally different from our culture? Absolutely. But we dare not venture upon the thin ice of moral pragmatism (we will change the culture because we are morally right). Because if we do the right thing and the culture doesn’t change, we’ll be tempted to think that we are in the wrong for doing the right thing, and we’ll take matters into our own hands while forsaking God’s sovereignty.

  • Steve Billingsley

    That first requires the realization (which for many would be quite a realization) that the American Empire and the Kingdom of God aren’t the same thing.

    Also, we might not win over the American Empire, but you could win over your neighbor. A joyful, winsome witness is powerful and is the most effective kind possible. I am not for retreating from politics per se, just for keeping it in it’s proper perspective and priority.

  • Steve Billingsley

    That first requires the realization (which for many would be quite a realization) that the American Empire and the Kingdom of God aren’t the same thing.

    Also, we might not win over the American Empire, but you could win over your neighbor. A joyful, winsome witness is powerful and is the most effective kind possible. I am not for retreating from politics per se, just for keeping it in it’s proper perspective and priority.

  • reg

    Isn’t this what 1Thess. 4 teaches us:
    Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

    9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

  • reg

    Isn’t this what 1Thess. 4 teaches us:
    Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

    9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Christians live wherever they are and with whomever they are with, for “where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation”.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Christians live wherever they are and with whomever they are with, for “where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation”.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    It might look like death though.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    It might look like death though.

  • TE Schroeder

    I have spoken a number of people who are practically becoming unglued because of the results of the elections. They wonder, “What will become of America?!” I have responded that if it all falls apart, that is not our concern. If Christians stopped worrying so much about fixing things by polictical elections and we keep in mind that we belong to a much greater kingdom — one not limited by boundaries, languages, or even by time! — and live accordingly, then perhaps the Church will actually start to look like the Church.

  • TE Schroeder

    I have spoken a number of people who are practically becoming unglued because of the results of the elections. They wonder, “What will become of America?!” I have responded that if it all falls apart, that is not our concern. If Christians stopped worrying so much about fixing things by polictical elections and we keep in mind that we belong to a much greater kingdom — one not limited by boundaries, languages, or even by time! — and live accordingly, then perhaps the Church will actually start to look like the Church.

  • Stephen

    “Keeping these simple distinctives, Christians would eventually win over the Roman empire. Maybe if we did the same things, Christians might eventually win over the American empire.”

    I’m surprised because I think this is a very unLutheran (unbiblical) approach to culture. The meek inherit the earth, not the culturally dominant.

    Christianity eventually won over the Roman Empire because Constantine was impressed by the valor of a certain Christian regiment in his army (Eusebius). He took the sign of the cross as his emblem because he thought it would help him conquer. And whatever the emperor does, it went without saying that a Roman citizen would too. Not that there wasn’t authentic faith, but it’s not hard for a pagan to switch or add to the gods he worships.

    But we live in a different, post-modern world. Individuals are their own emperors. Nothing has any claim on us unless we let it. Low toleration for rulers and authorities (including church authorities) that we don’t agree with puts the lie to the idea that we live like first century Christians – people who were politically powerless AND obedient to pagan rulers, even to their own death.

    @6

    You sound like a Mennonite.

    @5

    Or maybe it looks like living a quiet life and working with your hands as St. Paul instructs in Thessalonians.

    I’m not trying to pick a fight, but since when do we put faith in our works to redeem the world?

  • Stephen

    “Keeping these simple distinctives, Christians would eventually win over the Roman empire. Maybe if we did the same things, Christians might eventually win over the American empire.”

    I’m surprised because I think this is a very unLutheran (unbiblical) approach to culture. The meek inherit the earth, not the culturally dominant.

    Christianity eventually won over the Roman Empire because Constantine was impressed by the valor of a certain Christian regiment in his army (Eusebius). He took the sign of the cross as his emblem because he thought it would help him conquer. And whatever the emperor does, it went without saying that a Roman citizen would too. Not that there wasn’t authentic faith, but it’s not hard for a pagan to switch or add to the gods he worships.

    But we live in a different, post-modern world. Individuals are their own emperors. Nothing has any claim on us unless we let it. Low toleration for rulers and authorities (including church authorities) that we don’t agree with puts the lie to the idea that we live like first century Christians – people who were politically powerless AND obedient to pagan rulers, even to their own death.

    @6

    You sound like a Mennonite.

    @5

    Or maybe it looks like living a quiet life and working with your hands as St. Paul instructs in Thessalonians.

    I’m not trying to pick a fight, but since when do we put faith in our works to redeem the world?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Why shouldn’t Christians try to fix things through politics? God has blessed us with a representative form of government that is (at least nominally) “of the people, by the people and for the people.” Is it not our duty to participate in the Left Hand Kingdom, since it is ordained by God and Christians are a part of it?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Why shouldn’t Christians try to fix things through politics? God has blessed us with a representative form of government that is (at least nominally) “of the people, by the people and for the people.” Is it not our duty to participate in the Left Hand Kingdom, since it is ordained by God and Christians are a part of it?

  • DonS

    Well said, Dr. Veith.

  • DonS

    Well said, Dr. Veith.

  • Abby

    If we get as bad as Germany under Hitler, we may have to pull out Boenhoeffer.

  • Abby

    If we get as bad as Germany under Hitler, we may have to pull out Boenhoeffer.

  • reg

    Abby,
    Yes we are just around the corner from a total nazi style police state, I know for a fact that THEY are watching you. If I were you I would get out of the country now, while you still can. Don’t look back just run, there is no time to lose. Please hurry.

    (And simply as an historical note, as you amuse yourself with fantasies about exercising your second amendment rights in the cause of FREEDOM, Bonhoeffer did not accomplish much in terms of his resistance to Hitler. Lots of planning, lots of talk, but not much else.)

  • reg

    Abby,
    Yes we are just around the corner from a total nazi style police state, I know for a fact that THEY are watching you. If I were you I would get out of the country now, while you still can. Don’t look back just run, there is no time to lose. Please hurry.

    (And simply as an historical note, as you amuse yourself with fantasies about exercising your second amendment rights in the cause of FREEDOM, Bonhoeffer did not accomplish much in terms of his resistance to Hitler. Lots of planning, lots of talk, but not much else.)

  • TE Schroeder

    Stephen @ 7

    What in particular is Mennonite about my comments?

  • TE Schroeder

    Stephen @ 7

    What in particular is Mennonite about my comments?

  • Andrew

    @Reg: no need to dole out sarcasm / snarkiness to Abby. That you don’t think society is going downhill as fast as she does doesn’t give license to behave in a manner you wouldn’t in person (and if that’s how you’d really engage with someone at your church who raised those issues that’s a whole other matter). It can’t be beyond possibility to engage in discussion without being sarcastic or snarky.

    And I’m not pretending i’m 100% perfect in this area. I’m far too often a jerk online (a reason i bailed on facebook), but that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that in myself and call others to behave towards each other as if we were genuinely part of the same family rather than point scoring kids trying to pull each other down.

  • Andrew

    @Reg: no need to dole out sarcasm / snarkiness to Abby. That you don’t think society is going downhill as fast as she does doesn’t give license to behave in a manner you wouldn’t in person (and if that’s how you’d really engage with someone at your church who raised those issues that’s a whole other matter). It can’t be beyond possibility to engage in discussion without being sarcastic or snarky.

    And I’m not pretending i’m 100% perfect in this area. I’m far too often a jerk online (a reason i bailed on facebook), but that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that in myself and call others to behave towards each other as if we were genuinely part of the same family rather than point scoring kids trying to pull each other down.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith said:

    Keeping these simple distinctives, Christians would eventually win over the Roman empire.

    But was that a good thing? I mean, “winning over” a culture certainly sounds nice, but the actual example given, as Stephen notes (@7), isn’t about that. It was largely a sea change enforced from the top down. And arguably, the marriage of Christianity with political power was a pretty huge disaster, at least for the direction of the church. Thought I remembered something about that from the Reformation.

    And, to again echo Stephen, what makes anyone think that Christianity will “win over” an entire culture/empire? Is there some passage in Scripture to that effect? Because here’s what I find there:

    If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. …

    I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. …

    Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. …

    Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. …

    So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

    If Christians have forgotten this — that is, if they have forgotten that we have always lived in non-Christian cultures — then it is testimony to the corrosive influence of the marriage of Christianity and government or national identity, which we perhaps first saw in the Roman Empire.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith said:

    Keeping these simple distinctives, Christians would eventually win over the Roman empire.

    But was that a good thing? I mean, “winning over” a culture certainly sounds nice, but the actual example given, as Stephen notes (@7), isn’t about that. It was largely a sea change enforced from the top down. And arguably, the marriage of Christianity with political power was a pretty huge disaster, at least for the direction of the church. Thought I remembered something about that from the Reformation.

    And, to again echo Stephen, what makes anyone think that Christianity will “win over” an entire culture/empire? Is there some passage in Scripture to that effect? Because here’s what I find there:

    If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. …

    I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. …

    Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. …

    Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. …

    So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

    If Christians have forgotten this — that is, if they have forgotten that we have always lived in non-Christian cultures — then it is testimony to the corrosive influence of the marriage of Christianity and government or national identity, which we perhaps first saw in the Roman Empire.

  • Andrew

    persecution is a fantastic sieve to separate the goats from the sheep. few goats will hang around if you will suffer vilification, prosectuion, or your values completely opposed by the law.
    the persecuted church probably has stronger growth than any numerical advantages we have here in the soft west.

  • Andrew

    persecution is a fantastic sieve to separate the goats from the sheep. few goats will hang around if you will suffer vilification, prosectuion, or your values completely opposed by the law.
    the persecuted church probably has stronger growth than any numerical advantages we have here in the soft west.

  • Steve Billingsley

    tODD @ 14
    Good point about Christianity and the Roman Empire.

    FWIW – the best treatment (not triumphalist, but not Anabaptist) of this I have read in recent times is the book linked below…

    http://www.amazon.com/Defending-Constantine-Twilight-Empire-Christendom/dp/0830827226/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352933313&sr=8-1&keywords=defending+constantine

    Peter Leithart (the author) takes a pretty interesting and nuanced look at the relationship of Christianity and the Roman Empire in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries. It’s essentially a book long argument (civil, but an argument nonetheless) against John Howard Yoder (and his successor Stanley Hauerwas).

    We do live in a non-Christian culture, but there is no doubt that our culture has been influenced by Christianity. I don’t want to speak of “winning over” a culture either, but I do think being a positive influence (e.g. salt as a preservative) on all aspects of a culture, including it’s political culture, is part of the task of Christians.

  • Steve Billingsley

    tODD @ 14
    Good point about Christianity and the Roman Empire.

    FWIW – the best treatment (not triumphalist, but not Anabaptist) of this I have read in recent times is the book linked below…

    http://www.amazon.com/Defending-Constantine-Twilight-Empire-Christendom/dp/0830827226/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352933313&sr=8-1&keywords=defending+constantine

    Peter Leithart (the author) takes a pretty interesting and nuanced look at the relationship of Christianity and the Roman Empire in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries. It’s essentially a book long argument (civil, but an argument nonetheless) against John Howard Yoder (and his successor Stanley Hauerwas).

    We do live in a non-Christian culture, but there is no doubt that our culture has been influenced by Christianity. I don’t want to speak of “winning over” a culture either, but I do think being a positive influence (e.g. salt as a preservative) on all aspects of a culture, including it’s political culture, is part of the task of Christians.

  • Stephen

    T E Schroeder

    It wasn’t meant to be critical necessarily, but your post reminded me of J.H. Yoder with that last line. He advocates a Church that withdraws from worldly politics (pacifism) but on the other hand is really not so a-political. What I mean is – while in one breath you advocate a church that is not bound by earthly representations in politics (and I agree), you turn right around and suggest that the Church ought to actually look like something specific other than what it is. I wanted to agree with you until that last line. It sounds like a confusion of the Two Kingdoms, something Mennonites, though very appealing in some ways, seem to be at pains to distinguish.

    Check out the Wikipedia article on John Howard Yoder. No offense meant, and I admit to being a little reactionary.

  • Stephen

    T E Schroeder

    It wasn’t meant to be critical necessarily, but your post reminded me of J.H. Yoder with that last line. He advocates a Church that withdraws from worldly politics (pacifism) but on the other hand is really not so a-political. What I mean is – while in one breath you advocate a church that is not bound by earthly representations in politics (and I agree), you turn right around and suggest that the Church ought to actually look like something specific other than what it is. I wanted to agree with you until that last line. It sounds like a confusion of the Two Kingdoms, something Mennonites, though very appealing in some ways, seem to be at pains to distinguish.

    Check out the Wikipedia article on John Howard Yoder. No offense meant, and I admit to being a little reactionary.

  • Stephen

    Ha! We crossed posts I think Steve @16! Great suggestion!

  • Stephen

    Ha! We crossed posts I think Steve @16! Great suggestion!

  • Stephen

    Does anyone know what Christian culture actually is? We’re perhaps not using the term culture with much accuracy. To say we live in a “none Christian” culture does not seem any more accurate than to say that we do. I think there is just culture, and Christianity is obviously part of ours in the West. We can’t opt out unless we do want to take the Anabaptist route perhaps. We shouldn’t opt out either. But neither should we expect the world to reflect the Kingdom of Heaven. It can’t and it won’t by our doing.

  • Stephen

    Does anyone know what Christian culture actually is? We’re perhaps not using the term culture with much accuracy. To say we live in a “none Christian” culture does not seem any more accurate than to say that we do. I think there is just culture, and Christianity is obviously part of ours in the West. We can’t opt out unless we do want to take the Anabaptist route perhaps. We shouldn’t opt out either. But neither should we expect the world to reflect the Kingdom of Heaven. It can’t and it won’t by our doing.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve B (@16), agreed on your last paragraph.

    But the salt metaphor may be enlightening here. When one salts a hunk of meat, yes, it is to keep it from spoiling. But one uses only a relatively small amount of salt to do so. And no one would ever confuse the salt with the meat. They are different things.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Steve B (@16), agreed on your last paragraph.

    But the salt metaphor may be enlightening here. When one salts a hunk of meat, yes, it is to keep it from spoiling. But one uses only a relatively small amount of salt to do so. And no one would ever confuse the salt with the meat. They are different things.

  • Joe

    Isn’t this kind of where vocation comes in? We live in a world that hates us by focusing on what God has given us to do, love our kids and our spouses, teach them the gospel, go to work and do our jobs well, etc.

  • Joe

    Isn’t this kind of where vocation comes in? We live in a world that hates us by focusing on what God has given us to do, love our kids and our spouses, teach them the gospel, go to work and do our jobs well, etc.

  • Andrew

    by this shall all men know that you are my disciples: if you have love one for another (am recalling this from the song rather than the verses in the bible).

    we are to be identified by outsiders as christians as we are people who love each other. not because we are morally perfect. not because we are financially successful, but that in a world where unity and love are in such short supply we would show genuine love to fellow believers.
    that we see how broken and in need of a saviour that we are that we are all too willing to extend a fraction of the grace we have received to others.

  • Andrew

    by this shall all men know that you are my disciples: if you have love one for another (am recalling this from the song rather than the verses in the bible).

    we are to be identified by outsiders as christians as we are people who love each other. not because we are morally perfect. not because we are financially successful, but that in a world where unity and love are in such short supply we would show genuine love to fellow believers.
    that we see how broken and in need of a saviour that we are that we are all too willing to extend a fraction of the grace we have received to others.

  • TE Schroeder

    Stephen @17

    No offense taken, just wanted clariifcation. And now I will also provide some.

    It seems that some Christians are putting WAY to much stock in politicians and policies being the way that we will save society. This is not the work of the Church. Granted, policies can help curb behavior, but they will never change hearts. That is what the Church should keep focused on.

    Each Christian has his own sphere of influence, and he will make his Christian confession by his words, his deeds, and his attitude. We should be much more concerned about that. And if we are doing that (love one another, love your neighbor, salt of the earth, light of the world), then the Church will look more like the Church.

    If people want to get into politics, fine. But don’t pin your hopes there and don’t become unglued when the “wrong” guy gets elected. The Lord’s will will be done, in spite of evil men. The Church has that comfort, and we should not forget that.

  • TE Schroeder

    Stephen @17

    No offense taken, just wanted clariifcation. And now I will also provide some.

    It seems that some Christians are putting WAY to much stock in politicians and policies being the way that we will save society. This is not the work of the Church. Granted, policies can help curb behavior, but they will never change hearts. That is what the Church should keep focused on.

    Each Christian has his own sphere of influence, and he will make his Christian confession by his words, his deeds, and his attitude. We should be much more concerned about that. And if we are doing that (love one another, love your neighbor, salt of the earth, light of the world), then the Church will look more like the Church.

    If people want to get into politics, fine. But don’t pin your hopes there and don’t become unglued when the “wrong” guy gets elected. The Lord’s will will be done, in spite of evil men. The Church has that comfort, and we should not forget that.

  • Stephen

    T E @ 23

    I understand what you are saying. And you are dead on when you say that the Church is about the condition of the heart. And I especially agree with your last two sentences. The goodness and mercy of God cannot be thwarted by ANYTHING we do. They will be done we pray.

    So, I think we could even go a step further and say that the Church (capital “C” that is) is truly invisible – “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” as St. Paul says. We cannot know how our own works effect others in our sphere of influence. Christians should look like every other good citizen, good parent, good spouse, etc. and nothing more. Anything else is Old Adam arrogance, the one who thinks that what he does counts more than what others do. In this way, we can freely live and make common cause with others of good will. We are truly in the world, in the flesh, but are not of it, living by the spirit that sets us free from concerns about what we do or do not do.

    And maybe I didn’t give enough credit to Bryan @ 5 because what all this looks like – this invisible faith – is death. We are willing to die to everything, including the pretension that we can somehow control what is and isn’t the right, godly outcome in the earthly sphere. We walk by faith and not by sight because faith ALONE justifies us, not what we do.

    I think we are on the same page. What the church does is also earthly righteousness that is commanded (law). But what is received through faith is life and salvation.

  • Stephen

    T E @ 23

    I understand what you are saying. And you are dead on when you say that the Church is about the condition of the heart. And I especially agree with your last two sentences. The goodness and mercy of God cannot be thwarted by ANYTHING we do. They will be done we pray.

    So, I think we could even go a step further and say that the Church (capital “C” that is) is truly invisible – “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” as St. Paul says. We cannot know how our own works effect others in our sphere of influence. Christians should look like every other good citizen, good parent, good spouse, etc. and nothing more. Anything else is Old Adam arrogance, the one who thinks that what he does counts more than what others do. In this way, we can freely live and make common cause with others of good will. We are truly in the world, in the flesh, but are not of it, living by the spirit that sets us free from concerns about what we do or do not do.

    And maybe I didn’t give enough credit to Bryan @ 5 because what all this looks like – this invisible faith – is death. We are willing to die to everything, including the pretension that we can somehow control what is and isn’t the right, godly outcome in the earthly sphere. We walk by faith and not by sight because faith ALONE justifies us, not what we do.

    I think we are on the same page. What the church does is also earthly righteousness that is commanded (law). But what is received through faith is life and salvation.

  • Stephen

    That should read “THY will be done we pray.”

    Peace be with you.

  • Stephen

    That should read “THY will be done we pray.”

    Peace be with you.

  • Stephen

    Joe @ 21

    I don’t think that Jesus meant the world would hate us because we are good people. There are lots of good people who truly love their families and would even die for them. It is about hating Christ himself and hence those who put their trust in him and the promise of his gospel. The sin of all sins is what is at stake, which is to love anything, especially ones own self, above God. Whatever is not faith is sin. This hate Jesus speaks of is not the opposite of good works, it is the opposite of love for God.

    What tODD quoted above is helpful I think:

    “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it . . .”

    This protection is faith in Christ (and yes, love as well – 1 Thess 5:8).

  • Stephen

    Joe @ 21

    I don’t think that Jesus meant the world would hate us because we are good people. There are lots of good people who truly love their families and would even die for them. It is about hating Christ himself and hence those who put their trust in him and the promise of his gospel. The sin of all sins is what is at stake, which is to love anything, especially ones own self, above God. Whatever is not faith is sin. This hate Jesus speaks of is not the opposite of good works, it is the opposite of love for God.

    What tODD quoted above is helpful I think:

    “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it . . .”

    This protection is faith in Christ (and yes, love as well – 1 Thess 5:8).


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