9 Pilgrim Principles

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I wasn’t the popular kid in school. I never fit in. If I showed you a picture of me in high school, you’d understand. Legally blind and short. That’s two automatic strikes against me. But I didn’t let it get to me. I found other people who didn’t fit in and made friends with them.

Christians sometimes have the same problem. Or at least, we should. This world is not my home. Getting too comfortable here is a recipe for disaster. I’m not trying to be harsh. But when you see the Scriptures I’m about to point out, you’ll understand what I mean.

For instance, here are some ways the Bible describes Christians. Jesus says that we are in the world but we are not of it (John 17:14-16). Peter calls us sojourners and exiles (1 Peter 2:11). This isn’t our country. We don’t fit in and we don’t belong here.

But don’t feel too bad. There’s no reason to get upset. There’s an upside to not being in the world. Paul tells us we are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20-21), and I’d rather be from there. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate it here. But the longer I live, being legally blind and a quadriplegic, I’m more than okay with divine healing now, and a new body in heaven, all promised in Scripture.

There’s got to be a way for us to not feel like complete strangers while maintaining God’s promises and inheritance for us. But every time I get close to comfort, something in this world reminds me of my true home. I enjoy living for Jesus here, but home, well, as Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.”

The World Hates Me

Jesus told us that when we practice following him, the world will hate us because it hated him (John 15:18-19). He taught on persecution because he knew that we could experience it while we live in the world (Matthew 5:10-13).

The rest of the New Testament also speaks about persecution. Almost every writer of the New Testament mentions persecution and how to deal with it. The world system doesn’t agree with Christian or kingdom values. This causes the friction that Jesus is talking about.

They crucified Jesus because he preached and taught kingdom values. We will experience trouble and persecution when we follow Christ with reckless abandon. Refusing to compromise may be one reason the world hates us so much.

People the world can’t buy or influence, bribe, or convert from their purest worldview and principles are dangerous. The wicked view of the world is that everyone has their price. All you have to do is figure out what that price is.

But no one can buy Christians who stand their ground. Only God influences them, and they refuse to ride the fence. They only have one Master and refuse to compromise. Such Christians do not cave in to any cultural norm, principle, or practice that does not line up with biblical principles.

Satan hates anyone he cannot influence. It drives him crazy when we stick to our guns. And it’s one thing for us to play defense, but when we start influencing people under his grasp, it makes him mad. That’s why this world hates us so much.

Thriving for Jesus

So I’ve been thinking about how to live behind enemy lines, not get comfortable, but not stick out like a sore thumb on purpose, which I believe drives people away from Jesus and his message.

Knowing that we walk in a spiritual battlefield and we are susceptible to this sinful environment, here are some principles we can follow to prepare:

  • Know your identity in Christ. When we know our place in God’s purposes and the new creatures he has made us to be, temptation and sin take a backseat to glorifying God and pleasing him with every thought, action, and word.
  • Focus on Jesus. The more we concentrate on Jesus, his mission for us, and how much this world needs him, the more we live for Jesus instead of fending off every temptation that comes our way.
  • Put on the Armor of God. Every morning when you wake up you need to arm yourself for the battle ahead. Our battle is not against other people (Ephesians 6:12). Even though we can’t see it clearly, we live in a spiritual battle every day. Don’t be the soldier that isn’t paying attention and is easy to pick off on the battlefield.
  • Keep renewing your mind. Romans 12:1-2 tells Christians to avoid the influence of worldly thinking (Colossians 2:8). Philippians 4:8 is a great way to renew our minds. You can wage war against every thought that is not captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

The defense is only half the equation. We’re here on a mission to win people over to Christ. So here are some steps we can take to show the world the difference Jesus makes in us desirable:

  • Witness about Jesus. The number one step any of us can take is to share Jesus with everyone around us while there is still time. This should be our top priority. People only have a short time to accept Christ before it is too late, and the end comes.
  • Be salt and light (Matthew 6:13-16). In our conversations and conduct, we must demonstrate the transformative work Jesus makes in our lives. We can approach every conversation with kingdom mindset and outlook. When we season are conversations with God’s grace, it shows a fresh perspective the world is not used to seeing. When we shed light on our conversations, we want to produce more revelatory light than debatable heat.
  • Be Jesus with skin on. This phrase has become a cliché in Christian circles. You and I may be the only Jesus the people in our spheres of influence will ever see. If we don’t show them an accurate image of Jesus, they will never accept him. We are his ambassadors and representatives.
  • Show God’s love and compassion. Every Christian has a weak moment where we don’t well-represent Christ. But the people who see us day in and day out must not see this all the time. We must model God’s love for them. And showing them compassion goes a long way in witnessing for Jesus.
  • Walk in holiness and purity. People in the world are used to seeing depravity, decay, and darkness. But when we show them the joy that comes with serving Christ and living for someone other than ourselves, intrigues them and they may want to take another look into Jesus.

We walk in this world but we are not of it. We work here for Jesus but heaven is our home. Let’s influence the world in our neighborhood for Jesus so they can see God’s glory through us. Represent Jesus in everything you do so that people can see the difference he makes.

What are some ways you show the difference Jesus makes in your life? Leave a comment and share your thoughts about being in the world but not of it.

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