Don’t go unprotected!
“I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. ” John 17:15-17
Here we have Jesus praying for the safety and protection of His followers. He knows that He is about to be crucified and that soon after He will have to leave them behind. Jesus knew fully the challenges and dangers that the early followers would face in the months and years after His resurrection. But He also knew what we would face centuries later when we went out into the world. He knew that we needed to be protected from many dangers that lay waiting for us to stumble upon.
For the past 2 weeks Pastor Chris has been preaching about the concept of clean versus unclean. It has been a strong message for us about the importance of not being hesitant to be in the world, and the importance for us as Christ followers to get involved with the people God has placed in our lives. For many people that is a challenge! Lots of Christians readily admit they don’t actually know anyone who doesn’t believe in God and go to church. Many others are cautious about getting too close to people who are “unclean” or worldly–almost as if they are afraid that the worldliness will rub off on them and cause them to stumble. This is not an irrational fear. The world IS as dangerous place!
But we have to ask ourselves–what does God want from us, knowing that He promises what He calls us to do, He equips us to do. In His Word, God frequently tells us that He is not impressed with lavish shows of worship. He wants the feet on the ground. Have a good read through Isaiah 58: 2-7! Here God tells us that we can fast and pray all we want but if we continue to ignore the people around us who are in oppression living without him, our acts of worship are just that. Acts and performances made to make us feel good.
Make no mistake however, rubbing shoulders with the world is not easy. While Christian people are far from perfect,usually when we hang out with them we are spared from swearing, overt anger, drunkenness, sexual immorality and other behaviors that we may find disturbing. But why would we expect non-believers to behave like God followers? We should not be surprised by this at all. When we are walking through life with non-Christians we will be exposed to these behaviors that we left behind when we chose God. And if we are not thoughtful and cautious we could find ourselves slipping into some bad habits.
So how do we navigate both worlds? How do we honor God with expressions of worship that place us in the world,loving and serving those who don’t know Him, while still remaining clean?
We need a super-natural vaccination to protect us! We get this through the power of the Holy Spirit. We get this by staying firmly connected to the source of our hope and strength. We get this when we faithfully and consistently read the word of God. We get this when we go to God often in prayer. We get this when we come back to the body of Christ often so that we always remember what we have and what it is that we want for others.
God does want us to be in the world. He has given us the responsibility of representing Him and drawing others to Him through us. But praise God, He doesn’t send us out there unprotected!