OF his disciples, Jesus says, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” “Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
The state is altogether of this world. No state will ever see any other world than this.
Yet Christ says that Christians are not of this world; nor of the things that are in the world.
Now the problem is, How can a man be not of this world; and yet be a part of that which is altogether of this world? How can he be not of, and love not, the things that are in the world, and yet be a material, an active part of a thing that is solely of this world and can never possibly be of any other? The only fair, logical, or reasonable answer to these questions settles the question of the relationship of Christians to the states and governments of this world.
So completely is the state of a thing of this world that when a man is born, he is born into the world and into the state at the same time. So long as he remains a part of the world, he is a part of the state. And so long as he remains a part of the state he remains a part of the world. And all this by the very fact of his having been born at all.
But Christianity calls men to “be born again:” to be “born from above:” to be born of the Spirit. And when this is done he is born into another kingdom, into another government, into another world. And it is just as true that when a man is born again, he is born into another kingdom at the same time, as it is that when he is born the first time, he is born into the state at the same time.
When a man is born again, that birth is just as real as was the first one. When he is born again, that birth is as distinct from the first one as day is from night. And the realm, the government, the world, into which he is born when he is born again, is just as distinct from the realm, the government, and the world into which he was first born, as the new birth is distinct from the first birth. The two things are so essentially different in all their characteristics that they cannot possibly be blended.
The state is of nature wholly: Christianity is of grace wholly. The state is altogether natural: Christianity is altogether spiritual. The state is of the earth: Christianity is of heaven. Thus in nature and characteristics the two things are absolutely separate and distinct. They cannot be united nor blended in the same person, nor in the same things. No: “they are not of the world.” “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is emnity [sic.] with God? Whosoever therefore will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
But the Lord has given us an unmistakable standard of comparison: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” What was the attitude of Christ toward the states and the kingdoms of this world? It was one of total separation from all of them in every way. And this is not simply that he did not have any thing to do with them, but that he would not have it. It is not that he passively ignored it, but that he actually refused to have anything to do with the state. He was offered the kingdom of Judea, and he refused it. He was offered all the kingdoms of the world, but he refused them all. His kingdom was not, and is not, of this world.
And he is the standard of all Christianity. He is the sole example of all Christians. And they are not of the world, even as he is not of the world. They are not of the things that are in the world, even as he is not of the things that are in the world.
A. T. J.