Christianity is a religion full of dichotomies. We are “in the world but not of the world.” We are “dead but alive again.” We are “peacekeepers who fight the good fight.” We are “members of the spiritual Kingdom that submit to the worldly government.”
There are a ton of “yes, but also” ideas in the faith that seem contradictory until you dig into the details of each idea.
For example, Jesus calls us to be a people active and engaged with the world around us; we should be loving our neighbor, looking out for them, following the example of the Good Samaritan, and evangelizing the Gospel to the lost around us. By all accounts, our responsibilities as God’s people put us square in the middle of the world. And yet, if we do our work right, the world will have little use for us!
The world won’t have any use us because we are dead and our (new) life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). When we become Christians, we essentially say the world is dead to us and Chris is now our life (Colossians 3:4). If the world is dead to me, I am surely dead to the world.
I am, to use the old expression “no earthly good.”
The world will try to get me to follow it down the path of sin, but I will decline. The world will encourage me to take shortcuts, to compromise, to concede when a darker way is the easier road, but I will refuse. “I’ve no use for going that way,” I’ll say. And in response, the world will say “Well then we have no use for you. You’re no earthly good to us, then.”
So be it.
Did you ever wonder why Jesus spent so much time talking about loving and doing good to our enemies? It’s because He understood that the vast majority of the people we encounter will be exactly that, our enemies. To follow Jesus—to truly follow Him—means making ourselves the enemies of the whole world. And what do we do with our enemies? We love them, we look out for for them, we follow the example of the Good Samaritan, and we evangelize the Gospel to them. Many of them won’t want to hear it, but a few might see the light. Those that do will obey the Gospel, rise a new person, and become “no earthly good” to the world around them, too.