June 5, 2011
Christianity Is Not a Detour
“I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
When Jesus prayed for His apostles, He prayed that they might have the help they needed to survive the attacks of the evil one.
Christianity was never meant to be a detour around the world – instead it is a particular path through the world, the only one that finally turns out to be safe. So Jesus prayed that while His apostles lived “in the world” (John 17:11) they might not be “of the world” (John 17:14). Would He not pray the same for us? Since the world is the environment in which we must live, there is nothing much we can do about that. However, we must do what we can do, and that is to reject the spiritual values of the world. We can refuse to give these principles any place in our hearts. As an old sailor would say, a ship’s place is in the sea, but if the sea gets into the ship then there is serious trouble.
Devotion to God does not mean that we dispense with any regard for the world that God has created. The more reverent our regard for God, the higher will be the quality of our connection to the world.
"Far from turning us away from the world, Christ directs us to it. He awakens within us an altogether new concern for it” (Paul Tournier). As we live in the world without being of the world, we will look more respectfully upon all things that God has made, even upon those that have been broken and marred by sin. Like our Lord Himself, we will be moved by compassion to enter the world on our own missions of mercy.
Let us also remember that “sanctification” does not require secluding ourselves in private, though it would surely be a good idea for us to do that more often nowadays. To be sanctified, or “set apart,” does not mean physical separation as much as it means moral separation. Even more than that, it means separation from any use of ourselves other than the Lord’s use. To be His people, we must be distinct from the world, but it is in the world, after all, that the Lord intends to make use of His people.
“Consecration is not wrapping one’s self in a holy web in the sanctuary and then coming forth after prayer and twilight meditation and saying, ‘There, I am consecrated.’ Consecration is going out into the world where God Almighty is and using every power for His glory. It is taking all advantages as trust funds” (Henry Ward Beecher).