Monday, April 19, 2010

In, not of

Me Against The World
Image copyright Ian Ho 2010

It's past midnight and I'm still wide awake thanks to a satisfying three hour nap in the afternoon. It's moments like this in the night when all's quiet that I start to get a bit contemplative and think about stuff.. NOT emo, mind you :)

I've actually been thinking about this for quite a while after one day at Trackers (the day when integrity music came down)... and basically the question is this: we as Christians are supposed to be holy, different, radical and so forth, but how are we to reconcile this desire to be 'not of this world' with the simple fact that we are humans living in this world? What should be the proper Biblical response to Christian living in a secular world and in popular culture?

I won't say that this issue has been troubling me, but it is still pertinent nonetheless, and maybe you've faced this question before. I mean, does being Christian mean we cut ourselves away from the things of this world and our lives just revolve around Church and all the Godly pursuits? I don't think so. I don't think God even wants us to do that. After some thinking (long bus journeys always make me do that), I've come to conclude that being Christian does not mean being isolated from the world. It does not mean only mixing with Christian friends, only listening to Christian music, watching Christian movies, reading Christian books yada yada. No, not at all, though those stuff are good and should be encouraged.

The solution to this, I believe, can be summarised in three simple words: In, not of.

We are called to be in this world, but not of this world. See the subtle difference in language. To be 'in' this world means to be acquainted and immersed in popular culture - the Hollywood movies, Korean dramas, secular music, Glee, soccer, technology and what not - but NOT to be overwhelmed by it, overtaken by it, or controlled by it. Which comes to the second part: 'not of' means to not let the things of this world take a higher place than our walk with God. I must clarify that the things of the world aren't bad or evil per se, not until they become more important than God.

So it isn't wrong or bad to watch movies or listen to Black Eyed Peas, it only becomes wrong when we let that consume us or infringe upon our spiritual life. It is self-delusion when we try to deny the fact that we're a part of secular society. There's no need to renounce all ties with popular culture as a Christian, we just need to readjust our priorities and put God first, the rest second.

In, not of. This I believe is the Christian response to living in a secular world. Simple yet so hard to do at times. But He is always there to help us through. OK now off to bed ;)


John N Melanie said...

Uncle John here. I just want to affirm your thoughts on being in but not of this world. There are many good things created by God in this world. More often than not, the bad or evil things of this world are perversions of the good things of God. I am glad that our Lord has granted you discernment in the thoughts you have shared. Have a enriching time in NS. Remember Rom 8:28.

Hannah said...

ian i'm belatedly reading your blog!

& omgosh i can't believe my dad commented, haha. i clicked to comment because coincidentally, my wireless network name is "INBUTNOTOFTHISWORLD" (my mum created it) so it was cool to see a post about it here!

also, the photo is beautiful. how'd you do it? O:

Ian Ho said...

@Uncle John: just saw your comment! thanks for the encouragement and yes indeed when God created everything, he saw that it was good. surviving fine thus far :)

@hannah: HAHA that's quite cool. lol. had a lot of fun taking the photo. basically i hanged a plastic bag of water and dripped it into a bowl of water. haha and with a bit of photoshop :X