“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Have your ever gone to a "Chinatown" in a major city? New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles all has one. How about Borough Park, Brooklyn, where the Hasidic Jews live? Or Lancaster, Pennsylvania where there is a large community of Amish? When you step into these communities, you immediately know the culture of the people who live and work there. They are people from the same culture who live in the United States. In many ways, they are IN the United States, but not OF the United States. They know who they are and want to retain their culture.
Now, let us compare that to the church and the Kingdom of God. I am talking both about church establishments and God's people. We are called to be disciples of Christ. We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. We are salt and light. When people visit a church, by the time they leave they should be saying, "So THIS is what the Kingdom is like!" When we visit Chinatown, we can easily say "So THIS is what it is like in China!". When we say that, we are talking about the culture--the language, the food, the attitudes and traditions.
When we meet people, by the time they leave us, they should know what the Kingdom culture is! All too often though, when they talk with us or come to our churches, all they see reflected is the pop culture of the world. This world does not need an imitation of its own culture. It needs to be immersed in God's culture! For that to happen, His citizens must first stop absorbing this world's culture and get filled with God's Word. When we are filled with His Word, we will begin to walk, talk and radiate His Kingdom culture everywhere we go. Then when people of the world come into our presence and into our churches, they will see God's culture. We create the culture and the Holy Spirit draws the world to God.
When Jesus spoke in John 17 about being in the world but not of the world, He wasn't talking about physically being separate from the world. He was talking about Kingdom culture. He was talking about being full of His Word and retaining our "home" culture everywhere we go, and that God would protect us as we live in this foreign culture. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
When I step into Chinatown, or Borough Park or even "Little Italy" I immediately know the culture from which these people came. When people step into your life or your church, can they say the same? Let's stop looking like the world and start being the true ambassadors God has called us to be.
Matthew 5:13-16 John 17:14-18