Challenges for the Church in the New Millennium (#6)
by Robert J. Young
The Relationship Between the Church and the World

Note: On the first Sunday of January, 2000, I presented to a combined adult Bible class a list of items that the church must thoughtfully address if we are to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles which were published in the church bulletin. They are reprinted here in the hope they will be helpful to even more people. These may be freely used as deemed appropriate.

| Introduction | The Bible & Truth-#1 | Bible Inspiration-#2 | Bible Interpretation-#3 | Nature of Church-#4 | Possibility of Unity-#5 | Worldliness-#6 | Christian Experience-#7 | Christian Missions-#8 | Christian Hope-#9 | Human Nature-#10 | Christian Living-#11 |

Five articles have preceded this one. The first three articles addressed the nature of the Bible, Biblical inspiration, and Biblical interpretation. The next two articles introduced "church" issues--the nature of the church and our attitude toward unity. A third major concern in the realm of understanding the church is the relationship of the church to the world.

Especially today, it occurs to me we have a tremendous difficulty in thinking properly about this world. Sometimes those groups which have tended toward the greatest fundamentalism have most easily assimilated the world's values and standards uncritically, while at other times these have stood aloof, fearing contamination. How does one determine which is the appropriate response at which time? At least in theory we seek to heed the biblical injunction not to conform to this world, yet at the same time we are anxious to respond to the call of Jesus to penetrate the world like salt and light in order to hinder or even stop its decay and illumine its darkness.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about being in the world while not being of the world. At the root of our involvement with the world is our adoption of a world-driven worldview. What is your perspective? How do you look at things?

Until we come face to face with God's desire to fashion within the church a people who are like him, possessed by him, and guided by him, we will continue to wonder at the inroads the world makes into our lives.

This may be an area where we know better than we do, but if so, the church must restore in the days ahead the prophetic voice that calls light light and dark dark and countenances no wishy-washy middle ground in the realm of lifestyle and morality. I want to be sympathetic to those who lives are wrecked by the evil which they could not see and did not know. God may not be as sympathetic to those of us who sin "with our eyes wide open" and seek forgiveness without making changes in our lives which will keep sin at bay.

I do not have all the answers, but I am confident the church must think clearly about the relationship of the church and the world, and specifically about the relationship of individual Christians to the world. If the church must be in the world, it does not follow that the world must be in the church!

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Last updated February 21, 2001.