Jesus said that we are to be in the world (Jn17:14-16). He didn’t just mean that we are on planet earth, but that we’re “in it” in the same way He was. That means, living with and amongst all people, loving and offering friendship and help – no matter who they are, sinners, outcasts and enemies, yet boldly obeying and speaking the Word of God, and enjoying life in God’s good creation. And, of course, Jesus loved the world by giving His life for them, so that people would come to faith in Him and be saved! (Jn 3:16). All of this is how we too are to be “in the world”.
At the same time, Jesus says that we are “not to be of – or belong to – the world”. The “world” also rejects God and His truth, is hostile towards Him, and goes its own way rather than His. Australian society does this stridently now, even outlawing God’s truth at points. To be “of” something means, to be one with that thing, to absorb it into our life, to be shaped by, and take on, its character. Jesus didn’t do this with the world – He was “not of the world”, but stood steadfastly opposed to any rejection of God, or His good law; we must do likewise.
We are not of the world, but we are of Jesus Christ!… Because of His love and merciful forgiveness to all of us, we love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength… He owns us! It is this saving Gospel that we are to hold out in love to the world, as we are in it – to the world that is hostile to God.
Grace and cheers, Jonathan