Jesus makes a clear distinction between His people and the people of this world. He separates Christians from the people of the world in an unusual way.
The children of God, according to the words of Jesus, are not of this world as He said in verses 14-16.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
No doubt many would find this hard to believe and hard to accept, but it is true. Those who follow Jesus follow a path that is not of this world but is from God. And the path we follow does not lead to the things of this world but to the things of God. So let us look at this for a few moments to understand the significance and importance of this matter.
Christians are Not of This World
This world and everything in it is physical. It is built on the building blocks of atoms and molecules. But that is not what the Kingdom of God is built upon. The Kingdom of God is built upon the spirit and no man knows what or how that is put together. Jesus said in John 3:5-6,
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
A man of the flesh, that is, a physical man of this world cannot enter the Kingdom of God. The physical man is bound to this world of flesh and blood. But any who desire to enter the Kingdom of God must be reborn in the spirit. They must become spiritual people to become the children of God.
And when they become the children of God, they are effectively no longer citizens of the kingdom of this world, but become citizens of the Kingdom of God in the spirit.
How Christians Are Not of This World
Our lives in Christ do not consist of the things pertaining to this life. Our life is hidden with God when we come to Jesus Christ and receive His salvation. As it says in Colossians 3:3-4,
3 For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
This verse tells us that our life is no longer a matter of this world or the things of this world but it is hidden with Jesus Christ who is seated at the right hand of God the Father. We enter life through Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, so too our life as Christians resides with Him in the spirit.
Now you will note in verse 3 of this section it says, “For you have died…” What is death? Understanding this is the key to understanding how we have ceased to be people of this earth and are now not of this world.
When a person dies as we know it today, it signifies the separation of the spirit of a man or woman from their physical, fleshly body. The body cannot live separate from the spirit and so when God calls the person’s spirit out of that person, they fall down dead.
Where does the spirit go? It is not of this world because anything in this world can be measured in one way or another. We live in the three dimensions of length, width and breadth and the dimension of time too, but the spirit of man does not exist in these dimensions.
When a person dies their spirit goes to a spiritual place. And we see where they go in the teaching Jesus gave on the rich man and Lazarus. In Luke 16:22-23 we see these two places in the spirit as the resting places for the dead.
22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried;
23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz’arus in his bosom.
Lazarus went to rest with Abraham in a place that is elsewhere called Paradise. By contrast the rich man died and went to a place of torment, Hades. These are not places of this world for if they were man could see them and visit them without death. So the means by which a person leaves this world, which includes the whole physical universe as well, is through death.
So how does a Christian become “not of this world?” In the same way, through death. But unlike the people of this world we do not die in a physical sense but we take on the death that Jesus gave for us when He was put to death. We enter into His death and resurrection when we go through water baptism for this is the symbolic death where we believe through faith in Jesus Christ that we have died with Him.
And so Jesus prayed for His people who were not of this world. Not just those around Him at that time, but also as He said in John 17:20,
20 “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word”
His prayer comes right down to us today who have learned at the feet of those original Apostles, teachers and prophets who wrote the letters and words and preserved them for all generations. So seek the truth of this gospel. Seek the way that leads out of this world for there is nothing here for us as it is temporary and will fade away. But our life in Christ that is not of this world will last into eternity.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Fred Fokkelman)
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