By Arch Hoercher
Jesus Christ is speaking of this in John 17:13-16 (NIV): “I am coming to You (God the Father) now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they (His believers) may have the full measure of my joy within them. 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. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (Satan). They (Christians) are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
What does Jesus mean that He and Christians are not of this world? Jesus Christ’s residence is in Heaven with the Father. He never was “of this world” even at His birth into it. His home and eternal residence is in Heaven. Believers (Christians) are no longer citizens of this world because we have become the adopted children of God. 1 John 5:19 (NIV) reads: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one (Satan).” In Philippians 3:30 Paul writes that our citizenship is in Heaven.
What is important for Christians to understand is that we should be living our lives each and every day with the knowledge and assurance that we are no longer citizens of this world but are citizens of Heaven. Our behavior should reflect our citizenship. We should not conform to the world but should conform to the life of Christ who we represent as His children. 1 John 2:15-16 gives us a rather stern warning; “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love of the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.”
You might ask, “How am I to live then?” “I am in this world, what am I supposed to do?” First, Jesus never said that the Christian life would be easy. In fact, He said that we are to take up our crosses and follow Him. It is important to understand where our hearts and minds are. Should we get rid of our nice homes and our new cars and no longer go on nice vacations? The answer to that question is yes, only if you love your home or your car or your vacation more than you love God. Romans 12: 1-2 (NIV) reads; “Therefor I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the PATTERN OF THIS WORLD, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” The closer you get to God the more you will understand His will for your life. One thing that is for sure is that His will is not represented by loving and coveting anything this world has to offer. The world lusts after bigger houses and better cars and being the top dog. The world’s desires are where their hearts are. The same is true of the Christian, but our desires and our hearts should be on the things of God, not the things of this world.
In Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) Paul writes; “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of THIS DARK WORLD…” This is a dark world and our struggle is against what the world has to offer to keep us or turn us away from a true relationship with God. Our job is to love our God with all our hearts and keep from loving anything of this world. Christians are temporary residents of this world but are not of this world. The challenge is not to desire the things of this world more than we desire the things of God. The more we love and desire the things of God, the less we will desire the things of this world and the more the world will hate us for it.