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Church and World

Are Christians really so different from everyone else? What’s the big deal when someone becomes a Christian? Foundations part 3, this week, gave us some pretty surprising answers …
The bible refers to two communities of people - sometimes called ‘the church’ and ‘the world’. ‘The world’ is the community of mankind living in rebellion to God - the whole human race under sin. ‘The church’ is the community of believers, those who trust in Jesus and are rescued, being called by him out of the world.

When someone becomes a Christian, they leave one community and join the other. Because they are no longer counted as rebels against God, but as his friends, they now belong to the church.

We often imagine this in terms of this first picture - that the church is a sort of sub-set of the world (for those who like Venn Diagrams!). This is understandable - after all, we’re not taken to a different planet when we become Christians (some would disagree…); we’re not even separated from society around, going off to join a monastery or something. Until we die, we remain among the rest of humanity. In many ways, you couldn’t tell us apart.

However, the bible presents things in terms of the second picture. When you become a Christian, you leave ‘the world’ and become part of ‘the church’. You leave the community of those in rebellion against God, and join those who worship him. That is why we have the symbolism of baptism - we die to the old life, and start a new life with Jesus.

This is a big deal for us - and for anyone wondering what the church is about, or weighing up whether to become part of it. ‘The church’ is not something you drift in and out of. It becomes your very identity, who you are.

Of course, we still relate to those around us - they are our friends, neighbours, family. But our whole value system is very different: we live to know Jesus, which they don’t. It sets us apart. Our whole life is joyfully bound up in knowing Christ and his people. And our main aim for others is that they might come out of ‘the world’ too - so that they might receive the life that Jesus brings too, and not judgement.