Tension... (Part 7 of 7)

“We are to be in the world and for the world but not of the world.[1]

In Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 we see Christ praying in verses 15 against what we would call syncretism and sectarianism.  As believers in Christ we live in a divine tension in this life between becoming the culture and failing to engage the culture.[2] 
Jesus’ prayer was that the disciples would not be taken out of the world.  It is all too easy for us to become fearful of the world, to pull back and fail to engage culture.  To make it worse we justify it by claiming that we are not to be a part of the world.  However, this kind of sectarian attitude alienates us from the world, a world that needs to hear the announcement that Jesus finished everything. 
On the opposite side of the coin Jesus also prayed that the disciples would be kept from the evil one.  It is equally easy for us to become subjected to syncretism where we become one with the culture so as to be ineffective. 
Therefore, I would argue for the saying that is printed above.  As followers of Christ we are in the world because we are for the world yet we are not of the world.  Furthermore, I would argue that our evangelism must always be formed by our theology, driven by gratitude and informed by the culture we minister to[3] To live in this tension is to live by faith in the shadow of the cross.

[1] Original source of quote unknown.
[2] Refer to the the teaching sheet in the PDF Resource Tab titled, “Christ and Culture” for more information on this subject.
[3] Taken from Unit 3 of DM-954 Class titled, “Strategies for Evangelism & Assimilation.”  Dr. Luke Biggs (Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri), January of 2011