You have it made. You live in the perfect situation. Your physical circumstances are ideal. Every minute of your life is lived in the perfect temperature. It is never to hot. It is never too cold. Twenty-four hours a day, seven day a week the temperature is perfect. If you had a thermostat, you would never touch it.

You have zero stress. No one ever distresses you, or pressures you, or places demands on you. You have no decisions to make. You are never hungry, and you always like what you have to eat. You would not change one thing about your diet.

You can rest and relax all you want. Those are the top priorities in your life--rest and relaxation. You exercise the way you want when you decide. Everything happens on your schedule.

Then you are born. The first thing you do is cry. Abruptly, the perfect environment is destroyed. In what to you seems an instant, you are introduced to stress as you enter a hostile environment. The temperature is NOT perfect. You must use your lungs to get your own oxygen, and you never did that before. In fact, you will spend the next eighty years breathing! And you do not have a choice! If you do not breathe, you die! You did not ask for that responsibility!

And conditions are horrible! Several times a day you feel wet, and you never felt wet before. Several times a day you feel dirty, and you never felt dirty before. Then you discover pain. Wet or dirty creates pain. Later you learn the pain was called diaper rash, but all you knew at the time was that you hurt.

You are often hungry, and you never felt hungry before. What is so awful about hunger is you cannot do a thing about it but loudly protest. With hunger, you begin the long journey of learning what foods you like, what foods you do not like, and what foods you like but cannot have. At first your rest is pretty good, but not as good as before birth.

Suppose we could get a baby's first impression of this world five minutes after birth. I know that is not possible. But suppose it was. What do you think a baby's first impression of this world is the first five minutes after birth? Let me suggest what I think likely would be the first impression: "I do not belong here! I want to go back!"

  1. Jesus did not "fit" in this world.
    1. "What do you mean that Jesus did not 'fit' in this world?"
      1. I mean Jesus did not belong here.
      2. I mean it was obvious that Jesus did not belong here.
      3. I mean a lot of people knew Jesus did not belong here, and they did not want him here.
    2. "Why would you think that? Jesus was the best thing that ever happened to this world."
      1. Why would you say that Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to this world?
        1. For the last two thousand years, the "Jesus factor" has been the number one reason for war.
        2. The "Jesus factor" has been the number one factor in violent persecutions.
        3. It is entirely possible in the last 2000 years more people have been killed in the name of Jesus than have died because of faith in Jesus.
      2. I agree that Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to this world.
        1. But I totally disagree that you prove it by fighting wars in his name.
        2. I totally disagree that you prove it by killing people in his name.
        3. We do not prove Jesus' value to our world by using Jesus to cause death and pain.
    3. "Why would you say that Jesus did not 'fit' or 'belong' in this world?
      1. Jesus was born in the equivalent of a "poor man's barn."
        1. God's son, the Savior of the world, born in a barn?
        2. That did not "fit" in his world; animals, not people, were born in barns.
      2. Jesus was conceived before his mother was married.
        1. That may be common place today, but it was not in Jesus' time.
        2. God's son, the Savior of the world, conceived outside of marriage?
        3. That did not "fit" in his world; that is not the way religiously acceptable people began life in first century Jewish society.
      3. When he was twelve, when he had the choice, he would rather discuss God's will than do anything else (Luke 2:48,48).
        1. A twelve-year-old that had rather listen to a religious discussion than do anything else?
        2. What a nerd! A twelve-year-old who uses his time to think about God's purposes in the world is weird!
        3. That did not "fit" in his world; twelve-year-olds had better things to do.
      4. Jesus never married.
        1. That may be okay today, but it was not okay in Jewish society then.
        2. In first century Jewish society, marrying and having children was the godly, responsible thing for a man to do.
        3. Some even declared it was just plain ungodly not to marry.
        4. That did not "fit" in that world; because Jesus was a single in a married society, he did not "fit."
      5. Jesus did not own anything (Matthew 8:19,20).
        1. He did not even have a place to sleep.
        2. That is down right irresponsible.
        3. Not only that; he did not try to own things.
        4. That did not "fit" that world; you ought to at least try to make enough and own enough to survive.
      6. Jesus accepted people the religious leaders rejected, and rejected the people the religious leaders said should be accepted (Matthew 9:10-13).
        1. This is what he was told: "Refuse to associate with the spiritually troubled and evil; associate with the religiously prominent."
        2. This is what he did: he associated with the spiritually troubled and evil, and he challenged the religiously prominent to look at their own spiritual flaws.
        3. In no way did that "fit" in that world; in fact, acceptable religious society regarded Jesus as dangerous.
    4. If you just read the gospels, it is very obvious that Jesus did not belong in this world, and he knew it.
      1. John said of Jesus in John 1:10,11:
        He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world did not know him. He came to his own, and those who were his own did not receive him.
      2. The night before his execution, Jesus said,
        John 17:4,5 I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
      3. From the beginning to the end of his life on earth, Jesus did not "fit." He was human, but he simply did not fit.

  2. Regardless of your age, I want you to do some serious thinking.
    1. What opinion do you have of yourself?
      1. "What do you mean?"
      2. Do you regard yourself to be reasonably intelligent, possessing understanding?
      3. Do you regard yourself to be a Christian with a reasonable amount of faith in God?
      4. Do you regard yourself to have a reasonable degree of understanding of Jesus' life and work on earth?
      5. It would amaze me if the majority of you failed to say, "Yes!"
    2. If your answer is "Yes," let me ask you another question.
      1. With your intelligence and understanding, do these two conclusions fit together: Jesus did not "fit" in this world, but his greatest goal is to make us "fit" in this world?
      2. Was Jesus' goal to make you and me belong to this world?
        1. Is the Christian's "everyday life" spiritual goal to "fit" in this world?
        2. Is "fitting" what our lives are about as Christians?
    3. I am not trying to put you on a "guilt trip," but I am trying to get you to do some meaningful soul searching.
      1. Do you think about our diligent efforts and planning to make ourselves and our children "fit" in the part of our world that has no concern for God?
      2. Teens, do you think about how hard you try to "fit" among teens who have little or no feeling for God?
      3. Spring break is over; this week the "routine" begins again; here comes summer.
        1. This week I challenge you to think about last week.
        2. This week I challenge you to think about your routine.
        3. How much did you do last week and will you do this week that (1) were about "fitting" but (2) had little or no concern for God in your life?
        4. How much of your focus was on "fitting" without any thought of God?
      4. What place did doing God's will have in Jesus' everyday life?
      5. What place does doing God's will have in your everyday life?

  3. I call your attention to a statement made in Hebrews 11:13-16.
    All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
    1. To a very distressed, burdened, struggling group of Christians, this writer said total faith in Jesus Christ is everything.
      1. The writer gave these struggling Christians a long list of people who made great sacrifices to live for God.
      2. He explained why they made a conscious decision to live by faith in God.
        1. Everyone on the long list died before Jesus came.
        2. They knew God would do something unique, but not in their lifetimes.
        3. But that was okay; living by faith in God was better.
        4. It was better because they knew they did not belong to this godless world.
        5. So they lived on earth as pilgrims, as exiles.
        6. And God was not ashamed when they said He was their God.
    2. Every week I am reminded that I do no belong to this world, and every week I am tempted to belong to this world.
      1. When I contact the grief, the misery, the mixed up lives, the devastated lives, the empty lives, the loneliness, the hopelessness, I have no desire to belong to this world.
      2. I do not say that in any sense of accomplishment or goodness.
      3. I say it because I personally know how devastating and empty it is to stop being a pilgrim and live in the deception that we can have heaven on this earth.
    3. If the only differences people see are in our worship, we don't have anything.
      1. If our marriages are like all other marriages,
      2. If our homes are like all other homes,
      3. If our families are like all other families,
      4. If our priorities are like everyone else's priorities,
      5. If our values are like everyone else's values,
      6. If our pleasures are like everyone else's pleasures,
      7. If six days a week we live like godless people, if the only time there is a visible difference is in two hours of worship, we are not pilgrims looking for a better country, a place to belong, a heavenly existence.
    4. Listen to a prayer Jesus gave for his twelve disciples the night before he died.
      John 17:14-16 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

One of the greatest challenges a Christian faces is understanding how to be in the world but not of the world.

"So what are Christians seeking?" Through the grace and mercy of God, we are attaching our umbilical cords to God. We do not belong to this world. We belong to Him.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 18 March 2001

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