Read John 17:15–18
Jesus prayed for his disciples and acknowledged that though they were in the world they were not of the world.
During my university years, I thought I was a strong Christian simply because I didn’t do what many of my college friends did, like getting drunk, taking drugs, or sleeping around. I was defining my Christianity by what I was not doing; completely forgetting about what it was that I should be doing. The goal of my university years should have been not only to abstain from “bad” behaviors but also to actually bear witness to the abundant life of God living in me.
When Jesus said that people would see our good works and give glory to the Father in heaven, he was not talking about making religious behavior modifications but rather about displaying the fruit of an authentic Christian life. These actions flow from the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in our lives and are characterized by kindness, mercy, justice, love, and compassion. Instead of being intimidated by the darkness, I should have been the catalyst for some honest, deep communication. Then perhaps I might have influenced the choices some of my friends were making. I needed to be in their world but not of their world so that through me, God could bring lasting change to their lives.
I think it’s so telling that Jesus specifically said that he did not ask that his followers be taken out of the world. Quite the contrary, he said that he is sending us into the world. In the twenty-first century, this world is filled with immorality, iniquity, crime, violence, greed, chauvinism, gossip, sexism, slander, racism—and the list goes on. The world that Jesus has sent us into is not a distant, far-off land in the remote regions of the earth but the place in which all of us conduct our everyday lives. This world comprises our homes, neighborhoods (and our neighbors), schools, colleges, and workplaces.
The point I’m trying to make here is that if we have an unfounded fear of the world that causes us to retreat from the world, we will fail to bring light to the world—and a dark world will remain devoid of the living Church. But if we are personally transformed by God’s Spirit and build a strong spiritual core, our light will shine forth brightly from a place of strength, and we would simultaneously remain holy in the midst of the darkness.
This world was never intended to be a threat to the Church but rather the mission field of the Church, which, through Jesus Christ, has the power to change our world rather than be changed by our world! Will you let your light shine brightly?