Out of This World

John 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.   Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.  But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”

The scriptures are clear as to the nature of the world, the evil that is driving the world systems, and the end goal of this evil against all humans and against true followers of Christ in particular. So why does the world, the entire system of systems, hate Christ Jesus and His true followers?

First, the world is under the sway of the anti-Christ.   The spirit of the anti-Christ is increasing in the world, infecting all who are apart from God. That spirit is exactly as its name implies – it is anti-Christ. Those who live according to this world will come to hate true followers of our Lord Jesus.

If you belonged to the world,” Jesus told us, “the world would love you as its own.”  If we are true followers of our Lord, we are no longer of this world.  We are strangers and aliens here, not of the same nature and spirit as the world.   Therefore, Jesus warns us, “I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.”

In His warning to us here, Jesus uses the Greek term, “ek,” meaning “out from,” as in to be “taken out of or out from something.”  The idea of “out from” the world is doubly reinforced by Jesus in His choice of terms.  He says that His true followers are those who do not belong to this world, in the Greek “because you are out from the world.”  Jesus then goes on to add the double reinforcement: “…but I have chosen you out of the world….”  The Greek word for “chosen” is eklegomai, which means “chosen out.”  He pairs that word with the phrase “out of the world.”  His literal statement to them is this: “I have chosen out you, out from the world.”

Jesus is making a strong point here.  His will is for us to be out from among the systems of the world.  Thus, the true followers of Christ are the “ekklesia,” a Greek compound word meaning “those who out from are called.”  Thus, the church is “the called-out ones,” called out from the world.  We have the mission of living our lives in the world for our God’s purposes yet are called out of the world due to the world’s purposes.

“If you are a called one, you are a called out one,” so said Watchman Nee.  There is no life for the follower of Christ that is still within or connected to the world systems.  These systems are all under Satan’s control, and to be connected to or invested in them is to be influenced by the spirit of the anti-Christ, not the Spirit of Christ.

This is important because we are not only called out of this system, we are also called to something – to be joined to Christ.  Our calling is a calling to nothing less than a life of union with Jesus Himself, a life fabulous beyond all measure, fulfilling beyond all comprehension.  Yet so many get busy here on their own, trying to cobble together a life that will satisfy them, trying to get whatever they can out of the world.  That is not the life for which we were created or redeemed.  And it will never satisfy us.  Any “success” in pursuing the world will leave us empty and unsatisfied, for it will be success at the wrong outcome.

Part of the anti-Christ emphasis in the world is the deception that tells us that what we see in the world is all there is. And it is easy for us to see this deception as reality.   When we follow the world, we set our sights far too low, and accept that which does not truly satisfy our souls.  We keep going back to the same dry wells of the world, and we leave still hungry and thirsty.

This takes us back to the words of C.S. Lewis – “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”

To claim to be a devoted follower of Christ and not live as one called out from the world is to miss the point of our salvation.  It also means that such a one is not a friend of our God.  James 4:4 “Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”  These are strong words, but strong words are needed on this point.  So many have been fooled into thinking the world is benign, and their dalliances with it of no consequence.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are the called-out ones, chosen out to be out from among the systems and pursuits of this world.  The terms of our relationship with Christ do not allow for any followers to love the world or to be engaged in its systems.    Jesus offers us no other options for following Him. 

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