Friday, August 12, 2011

In the World but Not of the World

We are in the world, but not of the world
We are in the world, but not of the world
We are set apart, to live our lives in the light
I can still picture learning this chorus in a darkened roomful of teenagers at America's Keswick sometime during my high school years. It was simple, yet clear: a musical reminder of the truth in Romans 12:2 that though we live in this fallen world, we are not conform to its patterns in our thinking and actions.

I've reflected on it often since then.

Especially these past few years as we've walked with our three older children through their secular school experience. Even more so recently as our girls begin to notice and question some of the choices and values of their peers that differ from their own - or at least, those we are trying prayerfully to instill in their hearts.

I've reflected on it as we have sought this year to become more involved in the structure of the school by my accepting a position as class representative and treasurer for the "Centro de Padres" (Parents' Association.)

When I encountered the tension of being part of the group yet resistant to some of the attitudes and actions displayed by its members ... When my own temper was tempted to flare due to catty power struggles and misinformation ... I reminded myself of it. And as activities were planned and worldly expectations clashed with my own comfort, it sent me in search of direction from God's Word as to how to respond.

As always, Jesus is our great example.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." - Matthew 9:10-13
Specifically, there was a school activity which was to be sponsored by the parents' committee. However, certain aspects of the event made it one we would not have chosen to attend had I not been on the committee. We were faced with the decision of whether to bow out and leave others doing all the work, or to find a way to participate without compromising our personal values.

We chose the latter.

Sure, it meant being on our feet almost an entire 24 hours one day. It meant starting the activity at 10 p.m. Chilean time and ending in the wee hours of the morning with aching feet and knotted backs and bleary eyes. For Pedro, it meant standing in the smoke of a grill and cooking 100+ anticuchos and choripanes while responding kindly to the picky parent who insisted her sausage was too cold. For me it meant hours in the kitchen preparing cookies and cakes and not hitting my pillow until 4:30 a.m. when the final pesos were counted.

But it also meant working side by side with people who had previously passed us by unnoticed on the school patio. It meant several personal interactions with the owners of the school and many chats with the school director. It meant showing we were willing to pitch in and do our part and keep our word.

Most importantly, it meant speaking with one mom on the committee about her spiritual journey and opening the door for deeper conversation in the future as we work together.

And that makes it worth it all!


Ness said...

Oh man, Steph...that really is the HARD stuff to do. I hear you. And I'm probably getting way too soft these days. Just in time for school to start here in the States....ouch.

Terri Fisher said...

I'm so proud of you, Sis! You and Pedro are finding creative ways to minister there in Iquique, while keeping your family and convictions as top priority. That's not easy to do...keep up the great work!