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. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
John 17:13-18 (NIV)
Read: John 17-18
Consider: When you mention something being otherworldly most people have the impression of something ethereal, almost mysterious and mystical. That is not the meaning here in John’s gospel. When Jesus said that ‘… they are not of the world any more than I am of the world’, he was referring to the spiritual dimension to life, as opposed to the physical (or worldly) dimension. Jesus knew that most people find it difficult to see beyond the physical; he wanted his followers to see that the spiritual life was actually more real that the purely physical life.
Despite this, Jesus knew that his followers could not be insulated and isolated from everyday life. Because of this he prayed that God would protect them from the evil one (Satan), who would try to turn their focus back on to purely physical issues. Therefore, while Christians are part of the world, they are also not of the world. This doesn’t mean that they are both and somehow two-faced. It means that while they live and work in the world that somehow they see beyond the obvious to what lies behind it.
When I was a child I remember hearing Jim Reeves singing ‘This world is not my home I’m just passing through’. While I didn’t understand what he meant then, I have come to understand that he was singing about the spiritual life and how Christians know that there is more to life than what we can see and touch.
Pray: Father, help us to be otherworldly, to keep our focus on the spiritual rather than the physical. Forgive us for so easily forgetting that we have been sent into the world to remind people of the spiritual side of life. May our lives be an example to others of this otherworldliness. Amen