Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Overview: In the World, Not of It”

September 18, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #279 “How Firm a Foundation” & #164 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Testimonies – How can you encourage the church with something you saw God do this summer or that he’s doing now? [ABC – Audible, Brief, Christ-Centered]

Teaching

Introduction: Jesus’ Prayer

Listen to how Jesus prayed for his disciples the night before he was killed; he said – “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (Jn. 17:14-18). Have you ever heard the phrase – “in the world, but not of the world?” It’s not technically from the Bible, but it’s from the Bible. I believe it comes from this passage and it’s a helpful phrase.

In the world – Jesus said, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world.” So he didn’t want his followers to be extracted from the world, isolated from non-believers. In fact, he said, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” So Christians are supposed to be in the world, like Jesus was. How was Jesus part of this world? Jesus was part of a family. He went to parties. He attended weddings. He worked a trade. He inhabited a culture. He listened to the news. He participated in the secular government. He studied nature. He engaged with all kinds of people. He expected his followers to also do these things.

But yet not be of the world. Not a part of the fallen way of thinking or living. To be distinct, different, standing out, strange, WEIRD. Because believers have God’s word, it sets them apart – that’s the meaning of the word ‘sanctify’. They live in the world but according to different standards and with different purposes. And this holiness will often draw the hatred of the world. Christians are supposed to be not of the world, like Jesus was. Jesus didn’t put his family before his Heavenly Father. He didn’t get drunk at parties. He saw spiritual significance in everything. He was free of material attachments. He engaged other cultures and critiqued his own. He didn’t put his hope in government. He didn’t deify nature. He called people sinners. And he was eventually killed. And he expected his followers to also be like this.

A Christian is supposed to be growing in Christlikeness in both of these ways: in the world, but not of the world.

Radical and Essential Difference

But first and foremost, let’s think about what a Christian IS. A Christian is someone who is in Christ! And this implies a fundamental distinction, a radical separation. The Bible talks in places like Romans 5 of the two categories of people in the world: those in Adam | those in Christ. There is a line that divides.

Can you think of other passages in the Bible that talk about a line or crossing a line or imply a difference between the believer and the unbeliever?

I think of John 5:24 – ““Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (NIV). Dead | Alive

Slave | Free (i.e. Rom. 6)

Elect | Non-Elect (i.e. Rom. 9)

Kingdom transfer: Colossians 1:13-14 – “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Darkness | Light

Satan | God “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1Jn. 5:19).

What else? Lost | Found? ?

In the NT this all is supposed to be reflected in church membership and discipline. Using the keys of the kingdom to bind and loose (cf. Mt. 16:19, 18:18), we admit people into membership in the church based on a credible profession that all this stuff has happened, and we put people out of membership when that profession is no longer credible, thus trying to maintain the line.

This is very binary stuff and rests on what Francis Schaeffer called the methodology of antithesis,[i] which in some circles, especially in our city, is not very celebrated today. Holding to some level of binary thinking is one way that believers must be different than the world around us.

One of the books I read this summer is called Blue Ocean Faith by Dave Schmelzer.[ii] In it he talks about Bounded Set vs. Centered Set. Draw diagram…. There are some positives to centered-set thinking, but there ultimately are boundaries, as all of these passages show… You can’t get away from the Bible’s depiction of there being people in and out…

Our confessional statement – The New Hampshire Confession of Faith, which provides some theological boundaries, says it this way:

XVII. Of The Righteous And The Wicked
We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in His esteem; while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in His sight wicked, and under the curse; and this distinction holds among men both in and after death.

The most important question is: are you part of the righteous, through faith in Jesus Christ?

Sanctification: Weird

So there is something called positional sanctification, where someone is placed on this side of the line. But generally when we talk about sanctification we’re not talking about positional sanctification, but progressive sanctification – slowly but surely becoming more holy, more like Christ; becoming who you are.

And throughout Scripture that process is portrayed as thinking and behaving differently than the world. Can you think of examples?

Romans 12:1-2 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Not conformed to the world. Not of the world. Redeemed believers are to think and act different than the world, not just going right along with the flow.

1 Peter 1:14-19 – “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

James 1:27 – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

James 4:4 – “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Titus 2:11-14 – “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

1 Peter 4:2-5 – “Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you.”

Christians are going to have to be thought weird by the world, because they don’t just go right along with it. They’ve been redeemed out of it and now march to the beat of a different drummer.

Further Sanctification: Winsome

So to recap, from Jesus’ prayer in John 17 for his followers we see that they are to be in the world, but not of the world. If you are a Christian you are fundamentally different from the world by right of being in Christ. And now that you’re in Christ positionally, you are growing to be more like Christ practically, becoming weirder and weirder as we recalibrate our thinking and acting to God’s holy standards. This will mean taking many different positions than the people around you.

But there’s more to being like Christ that we can often forget. Jesus was not of this world and as a result was murdered by this world. And yet, and yet… even though he was hated, there was something also attractive about him and disarming about his death that has won over millions through the ages. Jesus loved the lost world in a way that made him winsome. And his followers need to grow in this same kind of love and winsomeness.

We’re not supposed to just be weird for weirdness sake. We are weird in order to win the world. We don’t feel self-righteous and holier-than-thou – Hahahaha you suckers! If only you could be like me! But amazed by grace and secure in who we are in Christ, even if the world ridicules us, we can be appealing to the world and pique their interests. What Blue Ocean Faith is correctly putting its finger on is the sad reality of cranky, unloving so-called Christians.

Jesus said, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you” (Lk. 6:26). But some people should speak well of you. What are some passages that teach this?

1 Timothy 3:7 says that pastors “must be well thought of by outsiders.”

Colossians 4:5-6 – “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

1 Peter 3:15 – “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

1 Peter 2:9-12 – “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Conclusion

The vision statement at Immanuel when I got here was “to transform sinners into a holy people who find fulfillment for their hunger for beauty, meaning, and eternal satisfaction in the glory of Christ alone.” I want us to be a holy people, peculiar, set apart, not losing our saltiness, free to be weird… But I also want us to be winsome, kind, respectful, engaged, loving. I heard Tim Keller once say something like – Christians in the city should be getting praised and getting their teeth punched in all the time.

Jesus prayed that we would not be of the world, but would also be in the world, just like him. Another place where both of those realities are maintained is 1 Cor. 5:9-11 – “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.” The church is supposed to seek purity and keeping the line clear. But we’re also supposed to be out in the world with the sexually immoral and greedy and swindlers and idolaters, because the grace of God can move anyone over that line.

So that’s an overview of the concept of ‘Winsomely Weird.” Now, where are we going from here this fall? I want to go through a whole bunch of practical topics that we are faced with where the world is pressuring us to conform and think through how we should be winsomely weird in that area. So I’m thinking of things like: authority & purpose, drugs & alcohol, entertainment, sexuality, gender, relationships & conflict, family, money, work, bioethics… What ideas do you have?

Prayer – Get together in the Small Groups you’ve been in previously; make a new group for all those who weren’t in a Small Group previously

Pray that we would be aware of the ways that we can be worldly…

Pray that we would be engaged with the world… The three non-believers you identified at the Summer Retreat…

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