Do you ever find it challenging to be a Christian who lives in the world, but is not of the world?
We know that we are called to live like Jesus in this broken world, but sometimes, I look in the mirror and I see someone who looks, talks and acts just like the rest of the world. I know that this should not be so. Today’s reading in John 17 is a reminder to me that, although I clearly live in the world, I am not to be someone who is of this world.
Today, first take a moment to read all of John 17 with me. This chapter of John has always been one of my favorites since I discovered it for the first time, as it is a beautiful prayer of Jesus for US. How incredible is that? As you read John 17 today, rest in the fact that Jesus knows you by name and that He knew every single person He prayed for so long ago. I can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that Jesus interceded for me, for us, in the way that He did throughout this passage… it’s amazing.
Let’s focus on John 17:14-19 today and spend some time reminding ourselves how important it is to be in the world and not of the world:
14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
You’ve probably realized before that sometimes God answers our prayers differently than we might want Him to or expect Him to. For example, while God could deliver us from a challenge, He sometimes teaches us through the challenge instead. While God could heal us, He sometimes makes us wait for true healing in Heaven one day. You get the idea. Verse 15 above reminds me of this same sort of thing… Jesus certainly could have prayed that we would be taken out of the world and protected from the evil one in that way. But He didn’t.
Instead, verse 15 says that Jesus prayed specifically that God would NOT take us out of the world, but that He would protect us from the evil one as we live life in the world. Why wouldn’t Jesus just ask God to protect us by simply taking us out of the world?
Friends, I think there must be a reason Jesus prayed this way. I believe it is because He has work for us to do in this world, but in order to do that work, we simply cannot look like the rest of the world. It just doesn’t work that way. Of course, we are not called to be perfect as we live out an example of Jesus and His character. Instead, we can use our imperfections, weaknesses, and failings to point people to our desperate human need for God’s grace. But may I remind you today that you are, in fact, called to live here on earth for a reason? And may I also remind you today that as you live out your life here on earth, with purpose, you are called to do so in a way that does not look like the rest of the world?
Be encouraged today that although we are called to do life here on earth for a little while, we can make the most of that time here by not living like the rest of the world. Today, keep watch over your heart, your attitude, your words, and your actions and ask the Lord to help you focus on living in a way that is unlike anything this world has ever seen, and watch what the Lord does with that.