I have been in Ridgecrest the past few days leading Sunday School conferences for Ministers of Education. Next week I travel to Glorieta to repeat these conferences with another group of "ME's". While I was in Ridgecrest,
Take a look around your small group or Sunday School class. What do you think… is the world shaping your group or is your group shaping the world. As Christ-followers, we live in a delicate tension. We are not to be "of this world", but we are to be in the world. We often misunderstand what we are called to be as Christians.
One temptation that Christians (and our groups) face is to withdraw from the world. The world is wicked and unholy, and we are called to be good and holy. The reasoning is that if we get any of the world's dirt on us, then we lose our holiness. As a result, we often see our classes withdrawing from the world. I mean let's face it, people out there have tattoos and body piercings! Some even use obscenities as a means of self-expression! So we cuddle up with our Christian friends, listen to Christian elevator music… I mean contemporary Christian music, read Christian novels, etc.
On the other hand, we need to be careful about being so worldly that the world does not recognize Christ in us. When we adopt the world's culture, we lose the salt and light of the gospel. We lose our testimony. We unintentionally send a message to the world that choosing to be a Christian is not much different than being a Democrat or a Republican.
John 17:15 – "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."
Your small community, whether it is a home group or a Sunday School class has a higher calling. Jesus does not want you to withdraw from the world. Neither does He want you to become like the world. Instead, Jesus wants to transform the world through you, through the truth of the gospel.
Let me encourage you to try an experiment with your group. Find some way that, as a group, you can do something together in your immediate community that allows you to be a transforming influence in your neighborhood. Maybe it is serving at a rescue shelter, or providing some help at a Hope Pregnancy Center (hint hint). I have found that many groups need to do more than just talk about being "in the world but not of it" during the group Bible study. Many times, we need some hands on experience with being salt and light in our communities.