When our kids were little, my parents gave them a blow-up raft to use in the neighborhood swimming pool. It worked great for a few summers. My three children had a great time paddling around the pool and giving rides to their friends.
About the third summer the raft developed a small hole. For a while it still floated pretty well. It only took on a little water, not enough to cause any trouble. But over time that hole got bigger. Then other holes developed. The last time the kids used it they had to continually bale out water with a bucket just to keep it afloat.
We threw it away because the boat no longer served its purpose. It was designed to float, not to sink. It was supposed to be in the water, but not for water to be in it. The water was supposed to stay out of the boat.
You’ve probably heard a thousand times that Christians are supposed to “be in the world, but not of it.” But do you know what that looks like? How can we interact with lost people without being influenced by the unbelief and hostility towards God that is so prevalent in our culture? It’s a lot like a boat in the water. The boat is made to be out in the water – surrounded by water on all sides. But there isn’t supposed to be any water in the boat.
Unfortunately many of us Christians get it wrong. Some of us take our boats out of the water all together. Our intentions are good. We want to protect ourselves and our families from the sin of the world. But our lives have no impact on the lost world for Christ.
Others of us get out in the world but because we don’t protect ourselves from the influence of the world and guard ourselves against sin, we end up taking on water. The result is worldly Christians who bring dishonor to the name of Christ.
On the night Jesus was betrayed, He spent some time praying for the disciples about this very thing. (See John 17:13-19.) Jesus asked the Father not to take His followers out of the world but to protect them from Satan and his schemes; to guard them from temptation. He also asked that God would make them holy through the truth of His word. So, how can this help us be “in the world and not of the world?”
First, we must guard our own heart and lives from temptation. Take an inventory of your life. Where are you weak? In what areas are you most tempted? Ask God to help you identify those weaknesses and then take steps to protect them. Take precautionary measures. Find an accountability partner. Take things out of your life that constantly cause temptation.
Second, immerse yourself in God’s Word. Know the truth inside and out so you can recognize lies when you hear them. Obey what God shows you in His word so your life will be holy and above reproach. Then get your boat out in the water! There are some drowning souls in need of rescue.