In/Out/Of the World.

Today I went to church with my family in Iowa. The sermon ended with words something like, "So that we will not be of the world." The pastor was basically saying that we shouldn't get caught up in earthly things and perspectives. Then he briefly paused as if realizing that this might be a strange place to end, and then continued, "But that we wouldn't be fully out of the world either. Amen."

I thought his last statements fully exemplified a tension that many people who have spiritual/religious persuasions experience all of the time. We don't know how to strike a balance between the lives we lead now and the hopes we have for eternity & forever.

Some people believe that the world is 100% bad and sin-filled. They feel that the only 'realm' that matters is the spiritual and eternal. Other people believe that the world if 100% worthy and valuable of our human attention and care. They feel that it is only the here and now that matters. Then there are the majority of us who fall somewhere in the middle. We care about the world; we care about the people and creatures in it. We struggle with getting overly wrapped up in temporary stresses and worries. We long for and anticipate an eternity of peace and love, but we recognize that if earth had no purpose, then God probably wouldn't have been part of its creating force.

The sermon today and life in general really have me thinking. If anything, I probably err on the side of believing that what is most useful as peope of faith is to work for peace, harmony, and justice on earth now. I believe we can actively work toward ushering in the "kingdom of God." My focus is not usually on eternity and heaven. I wonder if my opinions will change depending on life circumstance and age. Probably so.

I wonder what it would mean to hear about being of the world vs. being separated from the world as a starving, impoverished, widowed mother in Afghanistan. I wonder what it would mean to hear the pastor's words today as the president of a country. I wonder what the words might mean to a soldier serving in Iraq. Life is so interesting, huh? Everyone comes to each new day with such unique perspectives, insights and experiences. I think what makes me most excited about congregational ministry is the opportunities I will have to truly hear people's thoughts on meaning and purpose; life and love and faith. I cannot wait to spend time with people everyday building relationships and journeying through a complicated world one step at a time. I sure hope I learn about a church where I can be a pastor soon, soon, soon!

Enjoy the rest of the the weekend. Peace.

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