The Normal Christian and
the World

The Normal Christian Life Lesson 23

Key Words: Different, Persecuted, Witness

Key Verses:

John 17:14,18
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.


Introduction

John 13 - 17 contains some of the final words that Jesus had for His disciples before going to the Cross. It is interesting that in chapter 17, He mentions the word "world" seventeen times. Obviously the subject of "the world" had some significance in these last teachings and it is this topic that we shall study as the last lesson on the Normal Christian Life. The comforting statement in verse 20 lets us know that this passage is for us today as well as for those first disciples that Jesus spoke these words to directly. So, let us turn to verses 6-26 and learn what God has to say about the Normal Christian and the World.

The Relationship to the World

Jesus begins the passage talking about the men that God had given to Him "out of the world". No man is born a Christian for all of us at one point in time were of this world. However, let us emphasize the past tense as Paul does in describing the Christians in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God". Jesus twice repeats that believers "are not of the world" (verses 14 and 16). Though we are "in the world" a change takes place when we get born again which we need to further understand.

Different Citizenship

Paul says in Philippians 3:20, "For our conversation is in heaven". The word translated as conversation came from the Greek word politeuma. One of the meanings of this word is "the commonwealth of citizens" which perhaps best fits the message Paul was trying to give. As a Christian, our citizenship is no longer of this world but of heaven. It is therefore very normal for a Christian to no longer feel at home in this world and with the people of this world! A Christian should feel much like a foreigner does in a distant land.

Different Character

We saw this change in character in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Paul says something similar in Ephesians 2:1-3, "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world". However, the Christian is one that has been "quickened" that is made alive and we no longer walk like the world (see also Romans 12:2). Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). There should be a difference between the character of a Christian and the character of an unbeliever.

Different Communion

2 Corinthians 6:14 has become a very controversial verse though the command is quite clear, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers". Paul uses an analogy from agriculture of the piece of wood and harness that fastened oxen to the plough. To be yoked together would be analogous to being teamed up for a common purpose. However, if there is any question in the meaning of this, we need only look at the remainder of the verse, "for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" The Christian is not to have fellowship with unbelievers (see James 4:4), for the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Galatians 6:14). In most situations, this should not be too difficult since must unbelievers will not want to be around a good solid Christian. Yes, Jesus ate and communed with publicans and sinners, but he did so in order to save their souls and not to enjoy their company. Whatever fellowship we might have with the world ought to be likewise to that end.

Different Charter

The people of this world are referred to as the children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) being "alienated from the life of God" (Ephesians 4:18). The destiny of the world is wrath and eternal torment (Revelation 20:15), but for believer - "God hath not appointed us to wrath" (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Our destiny is to dwell with God forever in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1-22:15). This present life is the closest thing to heaven for the unbeliever and the closest thing to hell for the believer.

The Retaliation from the World

One of the striking comments that Jesus makes about the Christian in our text is that "the world hath hated them" (verse 14). Once a person is born again into the family of God, the world will surely come to hate them as they hated Christ. Why will they hate us? For one thing we are different (1 Peter 4:4) and this often causes hatred as Haman hated the Jews for their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them (Esther 3:8). Also our life is a reminder that their deeds are evil and for this they hated Jesus (John 7:7). The Bible says that Cain hated Abel because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous (1 John 3:12). The bottom line is this - Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you (1 John 3:13).

Because the world will hate us we can count on persecution from thm, as Jesus said, "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). Paul told Timothy, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12, see also 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). Knowing this before hand, how is the Normal Christian to handle persecution?

Patiently

Paul talks about being "the filth of the world" and yet he says, "being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it" (1 Corinthians 4:11-13). Jesus told the Church at Smyrna, "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). We must endure persecution committing the keeping of our souls unto God, our faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19). We can be patient when we consider the omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence of God. He knows what we are going through, He is with us always, and He will avenge us. We do not need to seek vengeance our self for God shall punish those that persecute us with "everlasting destruction" (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). We can also be patient when we consider that our life is but a vapor in comparison to eternity (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Joyfully

When Peter and John had been beaten by the rulers of Israel, they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name (Acts 5:41). Peter later wrote that we are to rejoice when we are persecuted inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). How can we rejoice under such difficult circumstances? First let us realize that such persecution is evidence of our eternal destiny in heaven (Matthew 5:10, 2 Thessalonians 1:5). Also, let us realize that persecution draws us closer to God and helps to make us more like Christ (2 Corinthians 12:10; Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 4:13-14, 5:10).

The Responsibility to the World

In verse 18 of our text, Jesus reveals our great commision: As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. Jesus said in Mark 16:15, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel". His very last words to the disciples is found in Acts 1:8, "ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth". Our purpose for staying in this world is also our great responsibility to this world - we are to be witnesses that Jesus dies for our sins, was buried, and rose again. Just as the Father sent His Son with the message of salvation, so the Son has sent us!

How did Jesus witness to the world?

Jesus presented His message through both His Words and His Works (John 8:18, 10:25). Likewise, through our words and works we give witness of the gospel.

Words

When great persecution came upon the Church at Jerusalem after the death of Stephen, the believers that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word (Acts 8:4, 11:19). Paul reminded the elders of Ephesus how he had taught them publicly from house to house (Acts 20:20), and for three years he had ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears (Acts 20:31). We must witness of Christ by speaking and giving out the Word of God with our mouths! How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14).

Works

Peter had told the wives who had unbelieving husbands that they could without the word be won by the conversation of the wives (1 Peter 3:1). Here we have a marvelous truth that some unsaved people can be won through our manner of life. Someone once said that our walk talks louder than our talk talks. Perhaps we are unaware that all kinds of people watch us every day. They know when we are at Church and they know when we stayed home from Church. They can see what things are significant by our actions and our possessions. We only practice what we really believe (faith without works is dead - James 2:17). Does your manner of life witness to the world that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and that He lives forever more?