My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.John 17:15
In this section our Lord indicated the great realm of controversy between Himself and Satan, the realm in which Satan finds his activity manifested--the world. Throughout this whole discourse you find two communities in view: the world, which is secular society organized in its antipathy against God; and the church, the body of Christ, God's family.
The Lord knew that there would be this conflict. He called a group out of the world--not to be separate from it--but to be a different group. God always sees humanity divided into two categories. Sometimes they are called two kingdoms--the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Sometimes they are regarded symbolically as two cities--Jerusalem and Babylon. But there are always these two.
Jesus, knowing the danger of the world, prays for these disciples. And He points out the reason the world hates them.
I say these things while I am still in the world, He says,
so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. Here are men who have learned a source of joy that the world does not know how to produce. The world hates Christians because they have a source of life the world cannot explain. Satan tries to destroy this life. The devil is a murderer, and his aim is to destroy in any way he can through the deceitfulness of the allurements of the world.
Jesus, knowing this, prayed for two very important things for these men: He said,
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world. Why, then, do we say to new believers,
Look, you are a Christian, so get out of the world. Avoid any contact with it, and don't ever get mixed up in it as long as you live. It may be necessary at times for a young Christian to get away from the world for a while, but not to be removed from it! It is a violation of our Lord's prayer when we take ourselves out of the world and build a wholly Christian life with Christian friends and contacts and never go any place non-Christians go but simply isolate ourselves. The result is that the world is left without light--to fall into decay and darkness, with no help at all.
But, on the other hand, our Lord was aware that these men needed to be kept from the evil one. So he prayed that they should be kept from the evil one, from contamination by the world and all its deadly delusions. It is so easy to conform to the world, to seek its values and measure your life by its standards.
What a deadly thing that is! Our Lord is calling here for men and women who, like Himself, can live in the midst of the world and yet not become contaminated by its life, but be, instead, a source of release to those around.
Lord, You have placed me in the world even though I am not of it. But far too often I think and act like one who belongs to the world when, in fact, I belong to You.
As we enter each day, do we acknowledge our vulnerability to the many guises of evil? Do our lives evidence the ownership of Jesus?