A major goal in being a faithful child of God is to be different from everyone else in the world who are not faithful Christians themselves. This means that we are to abstain from sinful practices that the rest of the world partakes in. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:16). At the same time, we must live in this world around those who are not conducting themselves according to God’s Word. So, how do we live in this world but remain not “of the world”?
One way is to love God more than things of this world. This involves such practices as studying your Bible every day instead of allowing worldly things to take time away from reading the Scriptures. II Timothy 2:15 states, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In order for you to teach others about God, you must know the Scriptures well enough to answer questions that might be asked of you. Another way to strengthen our faith is to pray daily and often! Saying one prayer a day is not enough, because we must pray many times a day! “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
Likewise, if you allow any secular activity other than sickness to take the place of attending worship services of your home congregation of the church of Christ, this is also a sin and it makes you more like the world rather than more like Christ. Would Christ work a secular job while a worship service is taking place? No! Would Christ participate in a ballgame or go to a family member’s ballgame instead of attending worship service? No! Would Christ choose to only attend worship service on Sunday morning rather than at any other time that His home congregation met if He was physically able to do so? No! That is because Christ is not of this world, and we are to follow His example. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
Another way that we can be in the world but not like the world is to monitor the company that we keep and the activities that we participate in. We should always strive to have other Christians as friends, and we should also strive to convert as many souls as we can for Christ. Those that we come into contact with on a frequent basis can hold a lot of influence over us, so we should work to be around the best influences possible. Likewise, we should be good influences on others, showing that the light of Christ is in us. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We should guard our influence and the influence we give to others by being cautious about the places we go, the activities we participate in, and the sources of entertainment that we choose to use.
Activities such as social drinking, public dancing, using foul language, participating in fornication or promiscuity, as well as other sinful acts causes us to sin, and it hurts our influence on others. Likewise, even if we are not actually participating in these sinful acts, if we give the impression that we condone these things, then this hurts our influence. Christ used every opportunity to teach, and so should we. We should take time to teach those committing public sins how to come out of those sins. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” (Philippians 2:15).
Lastly, focusing more on attaining luxuries and material possessions in this world than on your spiritual well-being will not get you a home in Heaven! Putting our jobs before God will not get you into Heaven, as well as putting making money over performing our God-given roles in life will not get you into Heaven. God gave men the role of breadwinner in the family, while He gave women the role of keeping the home and caring for the children (I Timothy 5:8; Titus 2:5). Just as it is required by God for a man to go out and earn money to support his family, it is equally required by God that a woman take care of her children and the home in which the family lives. If a woman neglects her children for money, then she goes against God’s role for her, and is no different than a man who refuses to provide for his family.
Someone might ask, “What about women who want to work outside of the home while their children are in school?” When her children have reached the age to attend school, it is certainly okay for a woman to work a job outside the home, as long as it does not take time away from her children when they are at home. A mother should be there for her children before they go to school in the morning and when they come home. Children need stability in their lives, and having a mother that they can rely on to be there when they wake up and when they come home from school will help them feel secure and better able to succeed in life. We can learn from the example of the virtuous woman in Proverbs Chapter 31, who Solomon described in this way; “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her” (Proverbs 31:28).
These are just a few ways in which we, as Christians, can be different than the world and yet still live in the world. I encourage you to think of other ways as defined in Scripture to be more like Christ than those I have mentioned here, as I have just named a few. The world we live in today is corrupt, and Christians face many temptations and persecutions throughout our lives. We must always strive to do as Paul says in Philippians 3:14 and “. . . press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”