Until the past few years, separation was a defining characteristic of Christ’s Church. Being set apart was a clear command from God’s Word and a part of every Christian’s calling. But today there seems to be very little distinction between the Church and the world. This is tragic, because God has set His people apart for His kingdom purposes—to be instruments of change with the very aim of making a difference in the world.
A lot of churches today seek to appease the world. They compromise Christ’s gospel and, as a result, a lot of Christians allow themselves to conform to the world’s values rather than to those of Jesus.
This can’t make God happy. When the lost souls of this world face serious life crises and are confused, with no source of hope, the Church is meant to embody the difference they are looking for. Our lives are to be distinguished by hope, joy, peace, love, and giving. But a lot of followers today have erased those distinctions by creeping toward a line of compromise—and even crossing it at times. As a result, the lost and hurting see Christians’ lives as no different from their own.
Jesus addressed this when He said to His disciples, in essence, “The world sees Me one way, but I have revealed Myself to you in full. You’ve seen that the peace I offer isn’t received by the world. I’ve demonstrated to you the values of My kingdom—how to live, believe, walk and serve the Father. Those values are in stark contrast to the world’s and you are to live out My kingdom values. If Satan has no part in Me, he can have no part in your lives, either” (see John 14:27).
When God speaks of separating from the world, He doesn’t mean removing ourselves from it. The separation He desires takes place in the heart. It is reflected in our desires, our choices, our lifestyles. For an older generation of Christians, being separate meant not drinking, smoking or partying. Those are outward things, but God is addressing much more. He’s asking, “Is your heart still linked to the world in a way that excludes Me? Do you draw peace and self-worth from what the world says about you or from how I see you?”