OUT OF THIS WORLD

IN this world, but not OF it. That is one of the messages and focuses of the prayer of Christ Jesus before His crucifixion. 

John17:6, 9, 11, 13-15 [NIV] 6 I have revealed You to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to me and they have obeyed Your word. ... 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given Me, for they are Yours. ... 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name, the name You gave me, so that they may be one as We are one. ... 13 I am coming to You now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them. 14 I have given them Your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. 

And here is the crux of it all: John 17, verse 16 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”

Nothing brings this home like traveling to a trade show for work during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Usually, when I travel to a trade show, I only have to worry about bacon in everything. They actually had a happy hour focused on a bacon bar at the last trade show I went to. 

This week, I was in Columbus, Ohio, for four days and the event planners seemed to be focused on pork and bread.

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No thank you to the free Biscott cookies on the plane (which I love). No thank you to the vendors handing out cookies at the trade show. No thank you to the bread basket at the one sit-down lunch. No thank you to the sliders for dinner and bagels for breakfast. I have to say, I lived pretty healthily on fruit from the fitness room and the protein bars and unleavened rice crackers I packed with me. 

Suffice it to say that I was never more alert and on guard during the Days of Unleavened Bread than I have been this week. And that is not a bad thing. This more focused effort and greater planning is a good lesson about being in this world but not of it. 

At one point, my coworker came back from walking the show floor, where he had very sweetly picked up a cookie for me, along with one for him. I almost tossed it into my bag before I caught myself, and said, “No thank you.” He offered me the jelly beans in his hand instead. I took those.

The world keeps trying to draw us back into its ways. They don’t even realize it, and, if we are not careful, we will be tripped up. 

But the Days of Unleavened bread only last 7 days. In those 7 days, we focus on being different in a specific way. If our neighbors and friends know why we aren’t eating bread and cookies and cake, they probably think it is pretty weird. People that I’ve talked to about our beliefs, don’t understand how we can keep the “Old Testament observances” (a.k.a. “Jewish Holy Days”) and still believe in Jesus as Messiah. 

Depending on the people we work with now, those we are related to or those we used to hang out with, the folks around us might be just as surprised at the change in our moral behavior as in any refusal to eat bread for 7 days. This isn’t anything new.

1 Peter 4:3-4 [ESV] For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;

The changes God makes in our lives; the changes the Holy Spirit makes in our character; the changes obedience makes in our behavior is baffling to the world we live in. Because it seems weird, friends and family may try to coax us back into our former behavior. Because human nature is evil, we might find it hard not to slip up and act like our former selves. Because obedience to God makes him mad, Satan will try to tempt or trick us back into our former behavior. 

We may even face some hatred for what others see as our weirdness/differences, as we are warned in John 15:19 [NIV] If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. However, in the last hours of His life, Jesus also wanted His disciples (and us) to know this … I have overcome the world. [John 16:33, latter part NIV]. Praise God that He has! Because He has, so can we.

As long as we live in this world, it will take work to remain unspotted from it, from the simple things like careful planning and watchfulness while traveling during the Days of Unleavened Bread, to the greater things like turning the other cheek and doing good to our enemies. But that is exactly what we are told to do in order to practice pure religion.  James 1:27 [NKJV] Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the world. 

We are to be spotless and unsullied by this world. In it, but no longer of it. A little weird to those still immersed in it. 

You know what’s really “out of this world?”  The incredible reward waiting for all those who choose to live in this world but not off it in this life. 

Until the time God takes us out of this world or Jesus returns, stay weird, sweet sisters. 

I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions.  You can write to me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.