I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. – John 17:13
Jesus prayed for the apostles the night of his betrayal and arrest. When he prayed to the Father, he asked God to restore to him the glory he had enjoyed before the beginning of the world. He told the Father that all the ones God had given him were not lost and to protect them. Jesus didn’t want God to take them out of the world but to protect them from the evil one.
There was a song played and sung by the group Petra some years ago in the 1980s. The name of the song was “Not of This World.” Many young people used to wear t-shirts that said, “I’m in this world but not of this world.” This is the very message that Jesus prayed to the Father about the apostles. He knew that they would have to head out into the world after his departure to share the Good News of his resurrection with the world. He also knew that the world would torture and kill his apostles for sharing this message. That is why he prayed for the Father to protect them, at least until they had fulfilled their mission.
Many people experience great turmoil and frustration in this life, including Christians. Many of these same Christians, if they were honest with us, would say that they at one time or another said they wanted to leave this world. I will be honest and admit that I have said that very thing. It was wrong of me to do so because there are people in this world who need to hear the same message of saving grace that you and I did. How dare we ask God to remove us from this world prior to finishing the work he’s given us to do, just because of our personal selfishness!
If Jesus endured to the end of his mission at the cross, how much more should we be trusting in him to protect us long enough in this life to finish our mission!! We are in this world, but we are not of this world. We need to live our lives as though every day were out last. Why? Because we need to reach out to the lost that God places in our lives and share with them the life-saving message of the Good News of Jesus. Look around you. There are people everywhere who need to hear what God’s done for you and how he can do it for them. It’s that simple. As God told Joshua, “Don’t be afraid. Be strong and of courage. For I am with you wherever you go.”
Father, I entertained that very thought today, of you taking me out of this world. Why? Because I was frustrated with life and all the little things that accumulated today and painted an unpleasant picture of my life. However, I realize after reading your word that you will protect me and give me the grace I need to live out this life of mine in this world but not be a part of this world. The world system offers so many options that seem attractive and lucrative but are merely illusions filled with lies and enslavement to sin. Help me to keep a proper perspective about my purpose in this life. Help me to not be selfish and self-centered. Help me to outwardly focused and to reach out to the lost and hurting of this world, so that they, too, may enjoy your love and grace and mercy. Thank you for protecting me from the evil one. In Jesus’ name, Amen.