John 17; 2 Chronicles 25; Psalm 82
Many followers of Christ look forward to the time when we will be taken out of this world in an event we call the Rapture. According to this belief, Christians will be taken to heaven and the world will be left to those who don’t know God. The resulting chaos caused by the lack of order and the wrath of God coming down on all those left behind will be horrendous. That is not, however, what Christians should look forward to based on the prayer of Jesus in John 17. As Jesus prayed for the disciples, and for us, we see these words: “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. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:14-15) Jesus notes the truth that because our citizenship is in heaven, we are not tied to this world. Our joys, our relationships are not built on those things that society values; they are built on God’s ideals. Because we are different, the world hates us. In some cases that hatred reveals itself in persecution. In others, it’s shown in the contempt of those who would mock our beliefs and our relationship with God. It’s only natural to seek retribution, or even simple withdrawal from such situations. The call of God, though, is not that we should leave the world. The call of God is to be active in our world while not falling into the clutches of the evil one. It doesn’t take too much to fall into those clutches either. We fall into the clutches of the evil one when we respond to troublesome situations the same way that those who are not followers of Christ do. We have fallen into the clutches of the evil one when we resolve not to get mad, but to get even. The command of Jesus is to be salt and light in our society – revealing the truth of God to a society reluctant to receive it. The prayer of Jesus is that we not be taken out of society, but that we stay in the world unswayed by the influences of the evil one. Just as Jesus came into the world to sacrifice His life to restore our relationship with God, so we must be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to restore relationships between those under the spell of the evil one and God. We are to be in the world to make a difference. Do that today.
Oh Lord, how often do my reactions to situations reveal my sinful nature? I seek my own good and resent when I am inconvenienced. Remind me that I am on this earth as Your servant and that I am responsible for being Your hands and feet in this evil world. Keep me from evil while using me to reveal Your love.