Read: John 17:6-26
Consider: When John quotes Jesus’ words that those whom he called were taken out of the world (John 17:6), he does not mean that Christians should separate themselves completely from the world. What Jesus is saying is that as Christians we have been chosen and called from all the inhabitants on earth.
You might not have realised that in John’s gospel the Greek word ‘κόσμος’, translated as ‘world’ occurs 79 times, while in John’s letters he uses it 24 times (23 times in 1 John and once in 2 John). In comparison, the other gospels use the word sparingly (Matthew – 9 times; Mark – 3 times; Luke – 3 times). You could say that John’s gospel is concerned about Christians being in the world, yet they should be apart (separate) from the world. That is why Jesus could not pray that the Father should take believers out of the world, but that as part of the world they would be protected from Satan (the evil one). Think of it this way: Christians should not be taken out of the world, but the world should be taken out of Christians.
Some Christians isolate themselves from the world so as to prevent themselves from being contaminated by worldly standards and views. Unfortunately isolating yourself from society prevents us fulfilling Jesus’ specific command: Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20). In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul puts the need for people to hear the good news of the gospel this way: How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ (Romans 10:14-15).
So as part of the world we are to share the good news confidently. The apostle Peter tells us: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
Thankfully even though we are part of the world, we are apart from the world. As followers of Jesus we come under the protection he prayed that the Father would give those who love him. Therefore, we have nothing to fear from the world.
Pray: Father, keep us from adopting the standards of the world. May we live distinctively in the world, able to explain to others what we believe and why we believe it. Amen