Out of this World?
Lord, as I read Your Word today, focus my mind and heart on all that is good and right.
Read John 15:18-16:4
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“A wide door for effective work has opened … and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16:9, RSV). Opportunities for witness often lead to the privilege to suffer with Christ.
When you read of “the world” in John’s Gospel, do not think only of the earth itself or the realm of nature. Think also of the world of people, and of the relationships that link neighbor to neighbor and nation to nation. The “world” in this Gospel usually means the network of living that we humans have woven on the earth.
In John we discover that the world has two faces, two aspects to its identity. One side reflects God’s love. Ours is a world that God has shaped, loved, touched, entered and illuminated. The world was made through Jesus (2 John 1:10). God loved the world (John 3:16). Jesus came to be the Light of the world (8:12). Surely, we may think, the world is meant to be a realm of beauty and blessing.
Yet its other face is altogether harsher and uglier. Light both gathers and scatters; it draws some and drives others away (3:19-21). The light of Jesus in the world often provokes a harsh reaction. There are people who hate our Lord, and who cannot bear the thought that others love him (18,19). Pressure and persecution have always been part of the church’s story. To use the word “world” as today’s verses do is to speak of humanity turning away from its Lord and Lover. It is to tell of resistance and resentment, of a society trying to hide and hating to see Gospel light shining in its midst.
Too many Christians today know this at close hand. Burning of church buildings, unfair laws, arrest, imprisonment, even death–the incidents are many and widespread, as the words of Jesus continue to tell of the pains of his people. We live in and with a two-faced world. We need to find ways of loving it, even when it does not love in return.
Find out about a place where Christians have been persecuted recently. Investigate as to whether there is anything you can do to help them.
Lord, I lift up to Your enabling power my brothers and sisters who are facing hostility for their faith. Give them courage, wisdom and hope.
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