On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he said a moving prayer that spoke of his love for us. The whole prayer is what is known as the High Priestly Prayer found in John 17. In verse 14-17, Jesus said, “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 ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”.
In these few verses, Jesus emphasized on the fact that we (Christians) are not of the world, just like how He is not of the world. So, what does it mean to be in the world but not of the world? What is the ‘world’ in this context? In his commentary on John’s Gospel, William Barclay defines the world as “human society organising itself without God”. In other words, a society that functions or seeks to be independent from God.
In a growing secular society, this truth has a greater relevance to us (Christians). It is a reminder that we are part of a Kingdom that isn’t of this world. It is a reminder that while we submit to the authorities in the world, there may be times when our Kingdom values may clash with that of the world’s. Jesus even went further to say that, there may be times that the world will hate us for our uniqueness; and that’s OK, because we are not of this world.
This truth carries with it some joys and challenges. It carries the joy of being known by God and belonging to his Kingdom. On the other hand, it speaks of the temporary challenges we may face in the world with regard to acceptance and belonging. But praise God for brothers and sisters (the family and community) we have in the church. In light of this, let us love each other; let us support each other, and let us speak up and stand with believers being persecuted for the shared faith we have in Christ. The world may not find the need to stand for them, but as Kingdom citizens it is our responsibility to.
Let us pray for the persecuted church.