Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2.

From the beginning of the Church until the present, Christians have wrestled with a fundamental problem: how to relate to the world and its culture. How do believers act in and interact with the society which surrounds them, and of which they are a part? Of course, we are all familiar with the old adage that Christians are to be in the world, but not of it. But what does that really mean? How do our kids value people and at the same time avoid spiritual and moral contamination? How do we balance the fact that our kids are saved not only from something but also to something (fulfilling God’s mission)?

The answer is we value and respect people without compromising our Christian values or our mission to be a light to the world. The story of Joseph provides an inspiring example of how we can successfully avoid compromising our convictions. While the Egyptian captain Potiphar was away on business, his wife attempted to seduce Joseph, his most trusted servant. Joseph may have been tempted, at least momentarily. It must have been a powerful temptation to compromise his principles for some possible perks, power and pleasure. Yet even with all that, Joseph knew it was wrong and refused to even consider compromising his values.

That’s how compromise begins. We forget the consequences of compromise. It may look like a good idea to compromise our values. It may help us relax because we are under a great deal of pressure. It may be peer pressure. The truth is we can get lured into compromise with the world–through subtlety. We get lured by the subtlety of the world and then we get locked in by forming wrong relationships that get us entangled even deeper. 

We should value people, but that does not mean we embrace or endorse their values. It is all too easy to try to absorb and assimilate cultural viewpoints and develop a shared set of values. But Christian and cultural values don’t mix well in many cases. Raising home run kids means that we can appreciate and even respect the values of others, but we must not forget our status as “temporary residents and foreigners.” (1 Peter 2:11) 

Discussion Questions

  1. What is “worldliness”? Is it mainly outward or inward?
  2. How do you understand being in the world, but not of it? What does that look like in the day-to-day life of a Christian?
  3. Why do even the most committed Christians find themselves conforming to the world?
  4. What can we tell about the kind of relationship people have with God by the way they make decisions about right and wrong?