Not of this World

Angst. Frustration. Unknowns.

Living through the “newness” of 2020 straight on through today, from the global pandemic, to political strife at home, to wars overseas, it’s been a lot. Those feelings mentioned at the top have become easy to fall back on, right?

Even as it feels like certain situations are starting to resolve, or settle, others come up.

To top it all off, we all have platforms right at our fingertips and in our faces that allow us to share what we’re thinking, what we believe is right, who we believe is wrong, and more. It’s become really easy to shout out opinions – even truthful ones – whether those opinions are met with standing ovations or outright battles.

It’s a lot.

Sometimes it makes it easy to feel alone, to wonder “why,” and to feel like the footing that we’ve got beneath us is shaky, maybe even crumbling.

Yet, it’s so far from the truth. The truth is that our foundation is strong, and that – just maybe – we’re putting too much effort into trying to blast our opinions out there when there might be a better way forward.

My morning devotions have taken on a new pattern: at the recommendation of one of my favorite writers, I’ve been reading through the book of John, one chapter at a time, over and over again. I’ve been venturing back into my “straight through” the bible routine as well, but some days, just a single chapter of John is what’s on the reading menu.

This morning was chapter 17, and today, it hit differently as I was thinking about the things I mentioned earlier, that maybe you’re feeling as well.

John 17 features the “High Priestly Prayer,” the prayer Jesus prayed as his hour came, knowing his crucifixion was at hand. It features so much for us to hold tightly to, but, today verses 13-19 really jumped out:

13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 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. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

As Jesus prepared himself for what was at hand – serving as the sacrifice for all of our sins – and spilled his heart out to God in Heaven, he thought of us. Not only did he think of us, his words show that he understood what believers of his time would face, and believers of our times would face.

He knew that following God would not align with what the world would deem “best.”

And knowing it, he didn’t call for us to be taken out of the world, or for us to live apart from the world, or for us to stick to our own communities of believers… he called for us to be protected from the evil one and sanctified in God’s truth.

Does that change how you see things today?

For me, it does.

It means that while we should feel the heaviness of the sin and deception around us, that we aren’t to feel frustration and hopelessness. We aren’t supposed to blast opinions out in anger. We aren’t meant to feel like the ground is shaky because – on the contrary – our foundation holds strong and true.

Instead, we’re meant to reach out in love. We’re meant to build relationships with those around us. We’re supposed to be lights in this world who point people to the feet of Jesus.

If we’re stuck in our anger, or fear, that’s awfully hard to do.

Jesus knew that we would feel like strangers in this world from time to time – maybe all the time. He felt it himself. Knowing it, he called us to complete joy in our father – not dependent on the situations surrounding us. He called us to live in truth.

We can move forward in confidence knowing this. We can move forward in love. We can move forward in hope. We don’t have to know what tomorrow will bring; our foundation holds steady. The battle is not ours: it is already won.

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