John 17:11 “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”
John 17:14 “they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
If someone were asked to categorize you, would they say that you are “one with the world” or “one with Christ?” Jesus said in John 17 that He was “not of the world,” and he clearly demonstrated this by His life. Although He spent time with sinners, His life showed that they lived in a different world than He did. He wasn’t one with them. He was “other worldly,” so to speak. Although he conversed with the Pharisees and other religious leaders of His day, He wasn’t of their world either. He didn’t think like them, speak like them, or live like them. Then, when Pilate asked Him if He was a king, as the people accused Him of claiming – and by this, threatening Rome – Jesus replied “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Here again He was giving evidence that He was from another place, another realm, another world.
In Jesus’ prayer in John 17 He said that those who followed Him were likewise “not of the world.” This indicates that it should be evident that anyone who genuinely identifies with Christ will be marked as one who isn’t like those who are “of the world” just as Jesus is not of the world. Some people seem to be in a world all of their own, detached from reality, and perhaps living in an institution somewhere for the world doesn’t know what to do with them. This isn’t what Jesus was talking about. He is not “of this world” in that, unlike this world, He is “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26).” He didn’t join men and women in their sinful lifestyles. He lived a life unstained by the ugliness of sin. He was pure, innocent, holy. He didn’t talk the way others talked. He didn’t think the way others thought. He was focused on the kingdom of God. It was a place He knew intimately and a place to which He longed to return. He knew the truth that it was a place of no sin, no pain, no tears, and no death. It was a glorious place – far beyond the ability of those who were born and raised in this world to possibly comprehend. It was more wonderful than they could even imagine. The wonders of that place and His desire to see as many as possible enter it someday occupied every moment of His life.
What about you and what about me? Are we “one with Christ” to the extent that the kingdom of God is our focus as well? Do we think about it, talk about it, and live like we actually belong to it and want to enter it? Is it evident to everyone who knows us that we are different from most because of this focus? Does the command of Romans 12:2 to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” describe our lives? If someone we knew were to be asked if this description of a person is indeed a description of us, would they say “Yes?” Or do the people we know have no idea that we have any interest in God or the kingdom of God? If they were to be asked if we’ve ever said anything to them about these things, what would they say? What do we talk about to others? Is it the weather, the Steelers, politics, deer hunting, or all the other things that people tend to talk about most in this world, or, at the very least, does it also include talk about another world, the glorious kingdom of God?
Our answer to that question will be an indication of whether we are among those whom Jesus was praying about in John 17. He said in that prayer that He was not praying for the world, but for His true followers (John 17:9), and most assuredly Jesus’ prayers are answered by the Father. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons the Bible often tells us such things as the following: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test (2 Corinthians 13:5)!” Indeed, this is the most important self-exam one can ever perform.
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