Holy Worldliness

John Stott, in his immensely helpful (read: biblical and practical) book, The Living Church, considers the two-fold identity of Christ’s church.  That is, he balances the need for the church (1) to be called out of the world and yet (2) to go into the world.  This kind of Christ-directed oscillation is seen in passages like John 10:1-10 where the sheep are brought into the fold but then sent out again and in Matthew 28:16-20 where the disciples are told to meet Jesus in a secluded place, but immediately commanded to go into the world.  So, this pattern should be normative in the lives of Christians and their churches.  Stott calls this ‘holy worldliness.’  The church is to worship and witness, to meet and to go on mission, and rightly he points to our Lord as the supreme example.  He writes:

Nobody has ever exhibited the meaning of ‘holy worldliness’ better than our Lord Jesus Christ himself.  His incarnation is the perfect embodiment of it.  On the one hand he came to us inou world, and ssumed the full reality of our humanness.  He made himself one with us in our frailty, and exposed himself to our tempations.  He fraternized with the common people, and they flocked around him eagerly.  He welcomed everybody and shunned nobody.  He identified himself with our sorrows, our sins and our death.  On the other hand, in mixing freely with people like us, he never sacrificed, or even for a moment compromised, his own unique identity.  His was the perfection of ‘holy worldliness’ (The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor [Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2007], 53).

May we the body of Christ look to Jesus, our head and the author and perfector of our faith, and GO and do likewise.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

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