John 17:11-21 (ESV) says:
And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (12) While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. (13) But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (14) I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (15) I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (16) They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (17) Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (18) As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (19) And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (20) "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, (21) that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Last Sunday, I made a comment that some of us have at times, been afraid of what the Bible teaches in some areas. It was a comment meant to help us continue our journey away from fear and towards righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17)…towards true, biblical love…towards Christ!
In the vein of moving away from any ungodly, unbiblical fear, I’d like to remind you all again that as believers, we are IN the world (the natural, physical, sin-spoiled earth), but we are no longer OF it. Indeed, we are citizens of another country….
Php 3:20-21 ESV But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Even the word “church” gives us a clue that we are IN and of OF. In Greek, it is the word “ekklesia.” It comes from “ek” meaning “out of” and klēsis which means “a calling.” So when Christ introduces us to the word church in Matthew 16:18, He implies that He is, based on Himself being the Rock and Chief Cornerstone (Eph 2:20 KJV), calling a people out of the world and to Himself.
As we said last Sunday, the final, glorious result of this calling is eternity with Him in Heaven…
Joh 14:1-3 ESV "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (2) In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
So friends, I’d like to encourage you to live as though you are IN and NOT of! :) Christ prayed that not only the disciples, but that we too (those who believed through their teaching) would be “kept” in His Name. As He guarded them, He guards us. As He prayed their joy would be fulfilled, He prayed ours would be too. He didn't ask for them to be taken out of the world; therefore we aren't taken out. However, since Jesus prayed they would be kept from the evil one, we too can have this confidence! Hallelujah!
The disciples were not of the world (except Judas of course) and neither is any true believer. Christ prayed they (and subsequently, we) would be sanctified by the truth of Scripture. To be sanctified means to be set apart and is a part and parcel characteristic of the true church around the world and throughout the ages.
So then the set apart, called-out church is sent by Christ into the world....not to assimilate but to emancipate others from the world!
Dear friends, we must become more comfortable with this precious calling. True believers are different. We sound different. We look different. We think different. We ARE different because of the work of Christ in us.
Don’t be afraid of the testimony and finished work of Jesus. Don’t be afraid of the words and commands of Jesus. Remember Paul’s words to the Galatian Christians…
Gal 1:10 ESV For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.