Stain the World

I’ve only been paintballing once in my life, and I wasn’t very good at it. I was too impatient, too unsneaky, too target-like. It’s a good thing for me that the only uniform I’ve worn was in marching band; I’m not exactly Navy SEAL material. But my paintballing experience left me with some life lessons (as well as some welts). One is this: the goal of the game is both to avoid getting hit and to hit someone else. You don’t pay $50 to find a good place to hide for 4 hours. You want to stain, not just avoid being stained.

Unfortunately, too  many Christians and churches have an entirely defensive strategy toward the world, especially those who identify themselves as fundamentalists. The gist of many sermons is that the believer must “stay clean,” which is true. We are to avoid being stained by the world (James 1:27b), conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2), friendly with the world (James 4:4), or in love the world (1 John 2:15-17). All of that is necessary—just not sufficient.

Scripture also calls us to engage the world. To go into it. To attack it.  To minister to it (James 1:27a). To “stain” it, to use the word from James 1:27b. That’s one of the main emphases of John 17 (which was recently unpacked by this excellent blog post). Jesus’ prayer teaches that Christians have been saved out of the world (v. 6) and are distinct from the world (v. 9), though we are still in the world (vv. 11, 15). We are not of the world and will therefore be hated by the world (vv. 14, 16). But the climax of the Christian/world contrast is that we (like Christ) have been sent into the world (v. 18). Until we are taken out of the world entirely (v. 24), we must continue Christ’s mission to rescue the world with the gospel (v. 20-23; 1 Timothy 1:15; John 3:16-17; Luke 19:10). We can’t just hide out and hope we don’t get hit.

By God’s grace, let’s labor to keep ourselves unstained by the world. But let’s pursue a loftier goal, as well, and let’s pass that on to the next generation (which needs to hear that our strategy isn’t just defensive). We don’t just want clean uniforms at the end of the game. We want more than stain-resistance. We want to make a difference. Let’s endeavor to stain the world.

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3 Responses

  1. Spot on! ;-)

  2. Excellent! We’re so afraid of being offensive, we’ve lost our offense!

  3. thanks for this, Chris!

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