Sunday, September 15, 2013

Not Of This World

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.         John 17:14-16  NKJV
Have you ever traveled away from your home for a short period of time?  If so, I wonder if you experienced a longing to return home just as I have.  Now I love to travel,  and I made it a point to take my family on vacations every year either to visit relatives or to go camping by ourselves.  Now I find myself spending a lot of time away visiting my children as they have all left home to live in different parts of the country.  Yet as much as I may enjoy either seeing my daughters or vacationing, it doesn’t take very long for me to begin to miss being at home. 

Have you ever felt a longing to return home when you were away?  As much as you may have enjoyed where you were or what you were doing, you began to miss the comfort of home?  Most believers are aware that Jesus prayed in the Garden on the night of His betrayal, yet many would be hard pressed to remember what the subject of His prayer was.  That prayer is recorded for us in the seventeenth chapter of John and if you read it you will find that rather than praying for Himself, Jesus was praying for us!  One of the things Jesus tells us in His prayer, and something I feel we all need to remember and never forget is that we are not of this world.
What exactly does that mean?  I believe that Jesus wants His followers to understand that as much as we might begin to enjoy the comforts of this world and the distractions it might place before us, we are not at home here!  This world is just a temporary “hotel” where we are staying before we travel home to spend eternity with our Father in Heaven.  Peter refers to this in his letter to the believers living in different parts of the country some thirty years or so after the resurrection.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.         1 Peter 1:1-2  NKJV
The word translated pilgrims in the New King James Version is the Greek word parepidēmos, and the meaning of it is as follows; one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives, a stranger, sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner, in the NT metaph. in reference to heaven as the native country, one who sojourns on earth.

You see, the very first thing Peter wants his readers to remember is that no matter where they are or what they are experiencing, they are just sojourners here on earth for a short period of time.  If you have ever experienced being homesick, you know how comforting it can be to know that your time away will come to an end.  I can remember telling my daughters when they took their first trips away from home for school functions or even sleepovers with friends and got homesick that it would be over soon and they would be back home soon.  The knowledge that their time away from home was temporary was a comfort to them, and made their time away easier.
It would appear from the many times we as believers are reminded of this in scripture that God is trying to do the same for us by reminding us that we are only here for a short time and our real home is in Heaven with Him for eternity.  When I consider these things, I can think of at least three ways that knowledge can help us as believers living on this earth.

The first is simply hope.  Looking forward to what lies ahead gives us hope for tomorrow knowing what we can expect when we finally get home.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.               Hebrews 11:13  NKJV

Second, it gives us strength to fight against the temptations of this world which Satan uses to try and get us to forget what lies ahead, and to enjoy the temporary pleasures of this world.
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,                       1 Peter 2:11  NKJV

Third, it is a warning to us of what to expect from the world when it realizes that we are different, and in Jesus’ words, “not of this world”.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.             John 15:18-19  NKJV

Many believers today are experiencing troubles and hardships and persecution.  The world seems to be getting increasingly hostile to those who are not of this world, and it shows no signs of getting any easier for those who believe.  If you have made the decision to believe that Jesus died for your sins, and have accepted the salvation He offers based on His sacrifice for you, you can have the comfort provided with the knowledge that you are not of this world any longer.
Your “home” is in Heaven with the Father, and your time here on earth is temporary.  We have the promises from God that our reward will be in Heaven with Him and there is nothing this world can do to take that away.  If you are homesick and wishing you could find comfort, remember what Jesus prayed for you in His prayer that night in the Garden.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. “O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”                     John 17:20-26  NKJV

We are not of this world!

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