Church apart from the world
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever.
There have been many readings of these texts which have led to Isolation, separation, avoidance of contamination - a view has been expressed that the world is bad and Christians should have as little to do with it as possible otherwise they will be infected, contaminated, diseased.
Church in the world
There is an opposite view which Jesus expresses in the very next verse - that the church is sent to contaminate the world with truth.
I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
The church has no walls, nor does it draw a circle around itself that separates it from the world. The community of faith forms an “open circle” around its center: the presence of Jesus Christ. the circle should be open enough for other people to see and join in the central Christ event (1 Cor.14:13-19). It should also be open enough for the congregation to move out of the center to see and join in the Christ event with others wherever it happens in the world. Those who have been called by Christ are only separate from the world in order to be prepared for this engagement with the world ... Thus the church is seen, not as a religious assembly temple synagogue, or sect which is closed or sacred, but as part of the world where it joins God’s action in becoming a pressure group for change. (Letty Russell Human Liberation in a Feminist Perspective - A Theology Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1974)
Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and it’s justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth.
Church people think about how to get people into the church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world.
Church people worry that the world might change the church; Kingdom people work to see the church change the world.(Howard Snyder, Liberating the Church, Inter-Varsity Press, 1983)
Are we church people or Kingdom people? Do we seek to build the church or the Kingdom? What do our agenda’s say about us, what do our priorities say about us.
being “not of this world” is not about condemnation of the world, but about proclaiming that this place is where love can and ought to rule. It points forward to the destiny of the world: the present rebellion has a limited life! The earth’s destiny is to be reunited with heaven – with God. This is the place where God wishes to dwell with us. disclosingnewworlds
This is the world in which God dwells, this is the world in which heaven comes. We are sent to contaminate the world with goodness, with God’s love, let us go and worship in the world.