Four Ways to Find Your Place
in This World
By Dallas Willard
How do you find your place in this world? As a Christian, your transformation into His likeness is a lifelong process. Here are four things to remember as you make this journey.
1. Remember who you are. That’s not as easy as it sounds. Remember who you are before God. You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe. Say it. I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe. Memorize it. Say it to your friends. Tell it to people you meet. Strong currents in our society will attempt to keep you from realizing who you are before God.
Some months ago someone did a study of a certain type of chimpanzee. They discovered this chimpanzee possessed 99.4% of human DNA. What’s the conclusion you are supposed to draw? You know what it is. It’s certainly not that you are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe. The conclusion you’re supposed to draw is that you’re very much like a chimp.
I’ve talked to some of my colleagues and suggested that we try giving a chimp a Ph.D. Certainly if chimps have 99.4% of DNA and DNA is what we are, then some chimps should do better on tests than humans! But no one who thought about it would suggest that 99.4% of DNA translates into 99.4% of human experience. What conclusion should we draw? We humans are a great deal more than DNA. You are a spiritual being. I emphasize that and encourage you to stay connected to this truth, because you will be continually challenged on this. Remember to say it to yourself, to your friends. Get them to say it to you. You may even want to write it on your bathroom mirror.
2. Remember to keep God before your mind.
You will keep in perfect peace
the mind that is dependent on You,
for it is trusting You (Is 26:3).
I keep the LORD in mind always.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken (Ps 16:8).
Set the Lord before you. Keep Him in your mind. You can learn to do this. You can bring God before your mind constantly and train yourself to have Him there always. One simple approach is to train yourself to go through the morning repeating to yourself, every minute or so, “Hallowed be Your name” or some other phrase that’s meaningful to you.
3. Remember to live sacrificially. On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the thirty-fifth president of the United States. During his inaugural address, this, the youngest man ever elected president, said that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” In this context, President Kennedy issued the following challenge: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
This simple statement, delivered with great fervor, drew forth an amazing current of sacrificial giving from people. This is built into our hearts. We know it’s right. And as Christians we’re the ones who really know what it means and how it can be done.
Don’t strive to advance yourself. Let God advance you. This is a deep psychological and sociological truth as well as a profound theological teaching. If you try to save your life, you’ll lose it. Give it away. God will give it back to you. Don’t make it your aim to get what you want. Serve others. Remember, God gives grace to the humble. He calls us to submit ourselves to the mighty hand of God that, when the time is right, He will lift us up.
I need to add that it’s not safe to be a servant unless you know who you are and unless you stand before God. On the night of His betrayal, just before He shared the Passover with His disciples, ...
Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God. So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him (Jn 13:3–5).
Because Jesus knew who He was, because He was secure in His relationship with His Father, He was able to do the work of the most menial slave.
Remember who you are. Keep God before you. Then serve sacrificially. When you serve others, you’re really serving God. Because you are serving God, you give the best of service to other human beings.
4. Remember you need a plan of discipline. Living the Christ life requires it. What’s normally thought of as church activities is not enough, even if you’re one of the leaders. Put together and follow a plan of solitude and silence, Scripture memorization, fasting, prayer, and worship.
If you regularly do these things, Christ will grow in you and His character will become your character. Then you will routinely and easily do the things He did and said to do out of love, joy, peace, and power.
The people who are in the world but not of the world are people who simply do the right thing routinely, easily, with peace and joy. Their picture is drawn repeatedly in the Scriptures (Ephesians 4, Colossians 3, Philippians 2). What you see in these passages is true. It works. It’s accessible to everyone. And there’s nothing in this world that compares with it. People like this are the answer to Jesus’ prayer at the end of His commencement address.
I have given them the glory You have given Me.
May they be one as We are one.
I am in them and You are in Me.
May they be made completely one,
So the world may know You have sent Me
and have loved them as You have loved me.
This is what the world is waiting for. Paul says that all creation is groaning, waiting for the sons and daughters of God.
Now take your God-given place in this world. Be Christ to those around you.