“14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
The culture today is in convulsions over whose stories, values and ideas will define us. The withering effects of this battle have driven many into various defense modes within politics, religion, and the seemingly endless determinations of the self. How does the Christian witness to a torn world and radically shifting culture? Do we simply pick from among the choruses of discontent and add our voice? Didn’t Jesus call us to be light and salt and leaven in the midst of the rancorous world?
John 17 gives us what has been called the Lord’s ‘High Priestly Prayer’. In this prayer He states flat out that He and those who belong to Him are not of the world. In fact, the Lord makes it clear that those who belong to the Word will be hated by the world. Faithfulness to the Father is not a formula for compatibility with the world.
The domestication of the faith makes this hard for most of us to grasp. We have done a masterful job of taking the offense out of our faith. We tend to move seamlessly between church life, family life, politics and marketplace. Most of our lives appear not only to be in the world but also of the world. Our Christian lives hardly stir up hatred, as Jesus suggested they might.
When Jesus Christ calls us He calls us to be fully in the world but not of the world. He calls us to be isolated but not insulated. The Christian draws life, value and perspective from Jesus Christ. This is what it means to be sanctified in the truth, the Word of God. If we are to be insulated from evil, as Jesus prayed, then we must be grounded and rooted in Him.
Family values, political ideology or variously defined modes of success will not save you or the world. These are law matters not Gospel matters. When a Christian or a congregation becomes so closely allied with these, the reverse of an old expression applies; ‘We become so earthly minded we are no heavenly good.”
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”