Many of the problems of the individual Christian, and of the Church, are brought about by failure to understand our position in the world.
Soon to be separated from his disciples our Lord prayed for them. In that prayer are some significant statements, often overlooked.
In John 17:9 we read, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou has given me; for they are thine.”
In verse 14 we read, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
Again, in verse 16 we read, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
Are we not foolish when we try to blur a distinction our Lord affirms? Christ is unique and distinctive. And the distinctive status of the Christian makes him, too, in a spiritual sense, apart from the world. As a new creature in Christ he differs from the unregenerate world in perspective, life, and destination.
Then too, the Church as a spiritual organism is unique and distinctive. Composed of redeemed men and women, it is entrusted with the message of salvation to those whom the Bible calls lost.
A God-revealed realism demands that these distinctions be not only recognized but maintained at all costs, for it was to this end that our Lord came. “Should not perish but have everlasting life” depicts both the redeeming love of God in Christ and man’s lost condition without him.
The new birth means nothing if it does not mean a supernatural change, newness of life in Christ. This very difference is a witness in itself. Living in the world, a Christian is a citizen of heaven, and as such he is to exert a heavenly influence on his earthly environment. Our Lord said that salt is to be tasted and light seen. God forbid ...1
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