‘My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.’ John 17:15 (NIV)
Jesus makes it good and clear that those who have set their hopes in Him and gone on to follow Him are not going to fit in too well with the world around them. If we think about it does it make sense? Those so bold as to devote themselves to seeking Christ are shifting their center interest away from all that the worldly men will chase. Yet there may be a trend developing in many churches to blend in with our society as Christians. The religious concept behind this movement may appear to have good motives. We might be led to think we could reach more people by rubbing shoulders with them. We could imagine ourselves to be more effective witnesses if we do not stand out as freaks to society. Although true to some degree could these kinds of sentiments hide clever tricks intelligently placed within the path of the true servants of the Lord? Could Jesus be bracing us for this movement by deliberately praying for us not to be taken out of the world, but to be protected while we are in it?
For many years Christians were pleased to stand out on their faith in the Scriptures. They saw that a higher level of morals and going to church brought their hearts better in tune with God. For them, to wear the name Christian meant to make this great distinction. Some took it further and ran to the hills in their devout effort to please God and prepare for Jesus´ second coming. They figured why flee in some future day when we can get out of society early by finding a more remote setting in which to live. They, like the Christian who embraces society with the idea of witnessing to it would like to think they are doing what they do to please God. So which one is right? Neither? Or both?
If we dig a little deeper we could argue both extremes. Christians today could seek to remove themselves from their society and there are sufficient texts in the Bible to give them the notion that they should. At the same time the opposite is also clearly asked of Jesus´ followers to go to the world and give their testimony. So what does this mean? Do we have a contradiction? Are God´s children given conflicting instructions? Or would the Lord have us know what we are talking about when we are not of the world but must be in it?
The answer of our race is still the same. Jesus is our answer. He always was needed and He is still needed now. Old Testament religion looked forward to His day. New Testament religion heralded His arrival and His Sacrifice. Modern time religion will have to take its stand upon nothing less. Therefore our brothers and sisters who live in the big cities will need their Saviour just as much as those who are living in the most removed corners of the world. Everyone will need to come humbly to Christ. This is not a stand on doctrines but a real and personal encounter! Our distinction will never save us if it is a distinction of geographic, social or denominational sort. Our distinction can place us under the protection of God through Jesus´ prayer only if we are truly with Him. What then should we pray for today?
There are many ways in which we who seek You may differ from the world around us. But we ask that our distinction is our heart´s yearning to come closer to God. We want to be so fully consumed with our walk with You that we can be included in those You prayed for to the Father. We do not ask to be taken out of the world, but rather to spend our time here looking honestly and consistently to You our Saviour and Friend. Help us reach our Goal we pray!