During my first year of college, I struggled with drawing the line between being "in the world" and "of the world." The issue first came to bat when I joined a sorority. I’m from Naples, Florida, about 1300 miles away from the University of Missouri, where I knew no one. Naturally, I wanted instant friends. Greek life seemed the answer.
The first week of recruitment wasn't too bad because Greek members weren't allowed to drink, party, curse, or talk about relationships. I realize now it was a decoy. Nevertheless, I joined up, thinking that the stereotype was wrong, that Greek life was more than just partying.
I was wrong. And so I found myself caught in a world of sin, but trying not to sin. (I'm not saying all Greek life is that way; that was just my experience.) I was hurt because when I told people I was in a sorority, I was immediately judged. “Oh, you’re one of THOSE girls,” many would say. My testimony was immediately hurt. I felt like the light I was supposed to shine for Christ was being put out by the mere fact that I was in a sorority –- not because I was actually sinning.
So, I decided to drop Greek life. I felt like being a sorority girl hindered my ability to witness to people. And isn't that our main goal on this earth –- to lead people to Christ? Thus, wouldn't doing anything that hindered this mission (i.e. being in a sorority) be considered a sin since God gave us a command?
I wasn't sinning (and when I say "sinning" I mean underage drinking as well as other Greek life matters. Of course, I'm not perfect in all aspects of my life), but I was surrounded by sin. Because of humans' inclination to judge, I was reflected as a sinner. I wanted to be a light to the Greek community, but I also didn't want others to wrongly judge me. I ultimately thought that it wasn't okay to be in the sorority but not of the sorority.
The issue reminds me of another question I faced in college -– is it okay for Christians to go to fraternity parties or bars and be surrounded by alcohol even if they don’t drink (underage) or get drunk (of age)? Is the actual sin going to the party or is it drinking? Is there a difference between being in the world (at the party) and of the world (drinking)?
At first, I thought no. But, what if someone saw a Christian at a fraternity party? Would that hinder his or her testimony? Likely.
Again, I thought of another scenario: attending an R-rated movie. Is it ok to go to such a movie if you don’t replicate the actions in your own life? That is, can you be in the movie theater but not of the movie?
I struggle with this because I truly believe God calls us to be relevant. In fact, I think it helps our testimonies to be relevant -- to go where non-believers go, but not to necessarily do what they do. We can witness to people by not being the “goody two-shoes” Christians telling people what they can and cannot do. We can show non-believers that Christians can have fun, but glorify God while doing it.
But, my question is this: Where’s the line? Where does being relevant, being in the world, become sin, being of the world?