Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. John 17:18 NLT
How did the Father send Jesus into the world? Did He send Him to a monastery where He spent all His time alone making sure He never came in contact with the world? No. The Father sent His Son into the world to work in a carpenter shop until He was 30. Working in a carpenter shop, He had a boss to please as well as demanding customers. He had deadlines to meet. He had tools that broke at the most inopportune times. He certainly did not spend every waking moment sitting on a mountain top reading Scripture. He was thrown into the hustle and bustle of everyday life. That was how the Father sent Jesus into the world, and that is how Jesus sends us into the world.
As Adventist Christians many of us struggle with being in the world without being worldly. Many of us try to isolate ourselves from the world but that clearly is not the answer.
You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Matthew 5:13 NLT
Salt is a preserving substance and, in order for salt to accomplish its purpose, it has to be mixed into the food. Salt has no saving influence sitting alone in the cupboard. Likewise we need to be mixing with the people of the world in order for our saving influence to be felt. As inconsistent humans it can be hard to find the right balance of being in the world but not of the world. Jesus is our only consistent example.
Jesus saw in every soul one to whom must be given the call to His kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of the lake, and at the marriage feast. He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs. He carried His instruction into the household, bringing families in their own homes under the influence of His divine presence. His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts. He often repaired to the mountains for solitary prayer, but this was a preparation for His labor among men in active life. From these seasons He came forth to relieve the sick, to instruct the ignorant, and to break the chains from the captives of Satan. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 151
Notice Jesus did not just tolerate their secular affairs. He took an interest in their secular affairs. Being a Christian does not mean we isolate or quarantine ourselves from secular activities. After all, we will be building houses and farming in the new earth. We won’t be sitting on a cloud playing our harps all day. Being a Christian does not mean removing yourself from secular life. Being a Christian means taking Jesus into our secular life. For example one day at a Christian school where I was subbing one day a group of boys asked me to pray with them before their basketball game with another school that afternoon. They wanted to have a fun game that would be a blessing for all involved including the other team. They wanted to take Jesus into their secular activity.
Here is what someone giving the testimony of Jesus shared to both parents and teachers.
Give some of your leisure hours to your children; associate with them in their work and in their sports, and win their confidence. Cultivate their friendship. -Ellen White, Adventist Home, Page 192
The testimony of Jesus is very balanced. While we need to guard our Christianity in playing sports, we also need to guard our Christianity in church board meetings too. I’ve heard some people say all sports should be condemned because they saw cheating, lying and corruption at a sporting event. Well I have seen cheating, lying and corruption in church board and church business meetings too. Shall we ban those also? No! We must bring Jesus into those meetings and into our leisure hours. We must make Jesus a part of our sporting activities as well as our church board meetings. We will not help Jesus win the great controversy between Him and Satan by hiding in a monastery. We help Jesus win the great controversy by bringing His righteousness into our workplace, our public school classrooms and our neighborhood and communities.
We need Jesus to help us find the right balance between being in the world and not of the world. While the testimony of Jesus encourages us to live in the country, it also encourages us to do mission work in the cities. Just because we live outside the city does not mean we don’t still have a work to do inside the city. There is a balance. Jesus was very balanced between the mountain and the multitude and those who bear His testimony are balanced also.
About 13 years ago an older gentleman from church asked me to go with him to the golf-driving range. I literally had no interest in golf. I thought it was the most boring thing in the world, but I went to be sociable. He told me, “There are souls to be won on the golf course.” That afternoon I became hooked on golf! It may be boring to watch but sure is fun to play. Meanwhile over the last 13 years I have found myself having spiritual conversations with people who would never talk to me inside a church. I started Bible studies with one of my golf buddies and baptized him. My friend was right. There are souls to be won on the golf course.
Last Christmas my church was stunned and heartbroken when Larry, one of our older members died suddenly. I performed his funeral where I met several people from the community. They shared with me how Larry touched their lives. A few of them were from the neighborhood diner where Larry often ate. Waitresses and customers told me how Larry shared Jesus with them and even gave them Bible studies. Even though Larry is gone now ,other church members are continuing to frequent the diner and share study guides, carrying on the legacy that Larry began. Larry did not hide from the community to be a Christian. Larry brought Christ with him into the community and into that diner. Larry was the salt of the earth or at least his corner of the earth. Will you allow Jesus to make you the salt of the corner of your earth? Larry made friends for God. Will you make friends for God?