The best of both worlds is a frequently used idiom that describes a situation in which a person benefits from two different things that usually don’t go together. For instance, an employee is allowed to work from home and may be described as having the best of both worlds because the job continues, but from the comfort and convenience of their home.
So how does the best of both worlds idiom apply to Sunday School and small groups? Many groups live in just one world…the world of church. I like to call this living in the “church bubble.” Our friends are almost all from our Bible study group or church family; our activities center around the lives of church friends and church programs. We live with both feet in this world. Not a bad way to live, but is it a biblical way to live?
Acts 16 is the story of Paul, Silas and the Philippian jailer. The story picks up in verse 16 which states, “Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit of prediction…As she followed Paul and us she cried out, ‘These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation, are the slaves of the Most High God.’ And she did this for many days.” The story goes on to describe how Paul cast out the demon, was assaulted by the crowd, and how he and Silas were thrown in to prison for the night after being beaten.
It occurred to me as I recently meditated on this story that Paul and Silas had the best of both worlds. The Word says that they had a foot in the world of church (“Once, as we were on our way to prayer…”) and one foot in the world of the lost (“…These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation…”). For Paul and Silas, life wasn’t an either-or experience; life was a both-and experience. It was possible to relate to their fellow believers (probably Lydia and her small band of believers) and to the lost people of the city of Philippi. They had the best of both worlds.
Ask yourself whether or not you and your Bible study group have the best of both worlds, too; do you have relationships with people inside and outside the church family? Or do you simply have both feet securely planted in the world of church? If we are to engage our communities with the gospel, we must have the best of both worlds…Christian friends to strengthen us and encourage us, and lost people to whom we are relating and sharing the gospel. As the authors of the book Extreme Sunday School Challenge state, “For many churches, Sunday School isn’t evangelistic…it can’t be…there are no lost people in the classes!” (p.29). This reinforces the fact that too many groups live in just one world, the church world, and have a great opportunity to plant another foot in the lost world that is all around them. If your Bible study group is made up of Christians, think about new ways to include spiritually lost persons in your upcoming studies. Keep your feet planted in two worlds…enjoy the best of both worlds. It’s biblical.