John 17:9-10 “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.”
I read a commentary in the newspaper last Saturday. It was written by a self-described “Christian” but it was about the differences between “conservative Christians” and Christians like her, who were not conservative. She defined for the reader the difference. The difference was that there were those who viewed the world like she did – which was essentially the same as those who are “of the world (John 17:6)” and then there were those who viewed Christianity from a conservative perspective, which she revealed were, essentially, those who agreed with what the Bible calls sin. So, is there such a divide? Are there really two kinds of Christians, i.e., “conservative” and “non-conservative” or “progressive”?
In Jesus’ prayer in John 17 He identifies two types of people. He identifies some people as those who are of “the world” and says He is NOT praying for them. You see, they are not His people. They aren’t following Him, so He isn’t praying for them. But then there are those who had been given to Him by the Father “out of the world” (John 17:6). These people were once part of the world, but their lives have been radically changed. They are no longer what they once were, for “All things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). They used to think like everyone else in the world. They agreed with its viewpoints. They went with the flow, for that’s what the people that are “of the world” are like (John 15:18). But now they love Him and not the world. As a result, He describes them elsewhere in His prayer recorded in John 17 as those who: 1) obey His word, 2) know that all the words He spoke came from God and they accepted them, and 3) are hated by the world, just like He was hated by the world.
You see, it is Jesus Who alone knows what a Christian is, and Jesus alone can identify one. He spoke of a unity among Christians that was just like the unity that He had with the Father (John 17:11). That unity was rooted in their revelation of the Word of God, their commands for obedience to it, and their opposition to the attitudes and behaviors of the world as a result. In God’s eyes there are not two types of Christians – only two types of people. There is the type of person who loves and obeys His Word, and the type who doesn’t. You may call the first type “conservative” if you like, but God doesn’t. He just calls people who love and obey Him “believers” or “followers of Christ” and all others as “unbelievers” or “haters of Christ.” There’s no other way to spin it, no matter how hard we might try.
No attempt to justify sin in our lives or in the world holds any credibility with Christ. Those, like the author of the commentary in our local newspaper, may not see it that way, but those like the author of the commentary don’t make the rules. They aren’t qualified to define what a Christian is. They have no knowledge on the subject. They are speaking from ignorance, for that is exactly what their words reveal. Of believers, Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), i.e., free from sin, free from ignorance, and free from the character of a world that embraces the opposite.
May God help us to understand and embrace what He has told us about what a Christian is, and reject the definitions, words, and outright lies that a world that is opposed to Him may try to give us.