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Are you on the fringe? Fringe means “to be on the outskirts.” That can be good or bad depending upon what it at the center.
Last week I wrote about feeling on the outskirts of God and what He is doing in the world. But what if we flip that around and define fringe as being on the outskirts of what the world is doing? Then being on the fringe would be a good thing.
Jesus lived on the fringe while He was on earth. The leaders at the time expected Him to join them in their agenda. But Jesus certainly lived as if not engrossed in the world:
What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.1 Corinthians 7:29-31 NIV
If you find yourself depressed and anxious about what is happening in the world, maybe you are too deeply engrossed? What is too engrossed? This means living as if this life is all there is. If it were all there is, you’d have to put your full hope in it. You’d have no other choice.
If you are holding too tightly to this world, you’re going to feel discouraged. You’re going to be worried because this world in its present form is passing away. But, there is another option besides hoping in this world.
If you are in Christ, you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). God has separated you out from this world. He’s brought you to the fringe. He’s sent you into the world to help it, not to be engrossed in it (1).
Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father. The world and the desires it causes are disappearing. But if we obey God, we will live forever.1 John 2:15-17 CEV
Jesus had no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58). Of course, this doesn’t mean that He never slept lying down. It means He didn’t ever settle down as if this was His permanent home.
Sure – it’s okay to own a home and live in it. More important that where you live is how attached you are to your life in this world. It’s impossible to be completely satisfied with this world. If you try to find your life somewhere in the world, you will feel empty and disappointed.
But if you join Jesus at the fringe, you will find your life and you’ll be in good company. You can be on the fringe and not feel lonely.
If you’ve been engrossed in the world, it takes time to detach from it. At some point you have to let go of the world.
Have you ever lost something and become focused on finding it? What if you can’t find it? Eventually you have to move on. If you spend your life consumed with what you’ve lost, your life will be compromised. It won’t be all it could be.
Imagine what it feels like to let go of what you’ve lost and move on. That’s what you need to do with the world. The world isn’t as great as you thought it was. That’s good or bad depending upon how you look at it. If you can give up on finding your ultimate happiness in it, you’ll end up content and peaceful.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.