If you’re a devoted follower of Christ, you can’t avoid it: Conflict with this pagan world we live in.

The New Testament teaches us that we’re privileged pilgrims. We don’t fit into this evil world system. We’re citizens of another Kingdom and we serve another King.

And until He comes for us or returns with us, we live as aliens and sojourners in a world set against us and our coming King.

Still, He commands us to engage with this evil world and the people He so dearly loves.

So how do we walk that tightrope, engaging in a world that hates us without embracing its godless values?⇦Tweet that!

Two verses in 1 Peter answer that question:

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

The word translated “abstain” literally means to “hold yourself away from.” It’s not really speaking of an all or nothing dynamic, but a distancing. We’re surrounded by the values, priorities, indulgences, and wickedness of this pagan world. Our responsibility is to keep it all at arms’ distance. When you and I begin to embrace this stuff that the world says will make us happy or fulfill us, we’re holding it too close.

Rather than aggressive behaviors condemning and battling this evil world system, we need to overwhelm our enemies with good works—kindness, justice, and love—that force them to admit that God may have shown up in their lives. It’s not just the words of our mouth about Jesus that will win them over, but also our actions as His hands and feet in this hurtful world.

This gives me two clear truths to carry in my heart that will serve me well in any and every circumstance as I try to relate to this evil world in ways that honor my Savior:

Keep this world’s values and comforts of this alien world at arms length.⇦Tweet that! This doesn’t mean that I live like a monk in a cave. Neither does it mean that I abstain from a dirty dozen or terrible ten list that the so-called Christian culture has decided Christians must avoid. What it means is that when I begin to pull anything this world offers close to my heart, it’s too close.

Become the hands and feet of Jesus in this hurtful world. ⇦Tweet that!This doesn’t mean that I don’t tell people about Jesus. Neither does it mean that I have to sell everything and move to Madagascar. What it means is that when I when I see a need I meet it or an injustice I stand against it…in the name of Jesus.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Question: Have you ever stumbled in your relationship with this pagan world? Where did you get it wrong?⇦Tweet that!