“Live in the world, but not of the world.”
Have you ever heard that phrase? It’s a common religious axiom that I’ve heard used throughout my life as a Christian, and one which has a strong sense of truth behind it. Christians are called to take our light…our values, faith, and hope, out into the sinful world around us in hopes of winning others to Christ through the Gospel.
Sometimes, though, problems arise from the relationships we develop with unbelievers, and the wise and discerning Christian needs to be aware and ready to react to any circumstance that may pull them away from God. Whether we would like to admit it or not, we humans have the tendency to be affected by the environment that surrounds us. The Bible succinctly warns, “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). It’s not hard to imagine how worldly situations and worldly people can overcome our will to follow God and cause us to sin. On the other hand, shouldn’t we do all in our power to serve others and hopefully bring them to Christ? That’s when the question naturally arises: When do you cut the strings?
Throughout the Bible and the recorded teachings of Jesus, we have the admonition to put God first in all that we do. From “seeking him first” (Matthew 6:33) to allowing Christ to live through us (Galatians 2:20), we are reminded that God seeks our complete loyalty and dedication. With that important command in mind, the answer to our question is simple. If the circumstances or relationships we find ourselves in are causing us to turn our focus away from God, it may be time to cut those strings.
If we’re honest though, that’s much easier said than done. Some of us seek so strongly to please others that we allow their negativity or sinfulness to drag us down. Others are easily swayed by very personal and specific temptations that Satan throws their way and it would be wise to stay away from any environment that they do not have the spiritual maturity to withstand. In any case, each individual Christian must be aware of their surroundings and listen to the urgings of the Holy Spirit within us when we feel like we may be getting in too far over our head in regards to temptation.
It’s obvious that God wishes us to use our lives and our influence to teach others about him. He promised he would be with us in that endeavor (Matthew 28:19-20), so we are left with the reminder to rely on his strength and his wisdom when dealing with the trappings of this world. Always put God first and he will be sure guide you through whatever it is you may face.