“You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world.” (Jn 8,23) Words of Christ addressed to those who did not believe him. With these words Christ is telling us that if we do not believe in him, we would be stuck in the world instead of heading for where he is, which is what heaven is all about.
We need to understand the true nature and purpose of the world. As a creation of God, the world is, of course, a good thing. But it only has a transitory purpose insofar as we are concerned. The world is made for us to be tested whether what God wants us to be—that is, to be his image and likeness, children of his, sharers of his life and nature—is also what we want ourselves to be also.
We have to be wary when we get swallowed up by our earthly and temporal affairs, making them the main objective in our life rather than a mere occasion and means for us to achieve our real goal as defined for us by our Creator. The world is supposed to be only a pathway to heaven where we truly belong.
The proper attitude we should have toward the world is to love it without becoming worldly. And the secret is to see to it that our mind and heart are always with God. We should not allow ourselves to be fully taken by the charms and deceiving allurements of the world. We have to be completely detached from it, which does not mean that we should hate it. On the contrary, we have to be immersed in it as much as possible and yet love it but in the way God loves it.
That is the challenge! So the question to ask is: How does God love it so we can also love it the way he does? We just cannot rely on our ideas and ways of loving the world, because without God, that loving would be suspicious at best.
We can enumerate a few relevant points. First of all, God loves the world because he created it and endowed it with all the qualities, both actual and potential, in order to serve us. That is the purpose of the world. We in our turn should use the world the way God wants us to use it. And this ultimately is to give glory to God.
Let’s remember that as Creator, God has given everything in the world its proper nature and laws whose purpose is nothing other than to give glory to himself. We on our part can only use and develop the world properly when we respect the God-given nature and laws of everything that is in it. More than that, we should try to discern how each thing in the world becomes a living part of the abiding providence of God over all of us.
We have to be wary of our tendency to ignore the designs of God in the world and to simply pursue our own personal interests, leading us to fall into self-indulgence. Rather, what we should try to do is act as a Christian leaven that infuses the Christian spirit in all our worldly and temporal affairs.
This duty to be a leaven for the world is actually very doable, because what is needed first of all is the intention to do so. We may not be doing something with big public significance or some external manifestation, but with the little ordinary things that we do everyday and done with faith and love for God and for others, we can already effectively leaven the world.*