John 17 is a beautiful chapter to read because it reveals just how Jesus is interceding on our behalf. He loves his followers and intercedes continuously on our behalf for our sanctification and unity.
In this chapter, most of Jesus’s prayers are for his disciples, but his words can also be applied to all believers. In John 17:15-17, Jesus prays, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
I have often wondered…
Why Jesus doesn’t just pluck us from this dark, sinful world. It would be so much easier. Yet, here Jesus is asking God to leave us in the world but to set us apart and protect us from the evil one. If God was to pluck all the Christians from the world, who would be left to testify to the truth of God and salvation through Christ Jesus?
What I’ve come to understand over the years is that my desire for the easy way out, my desire to be taken out of the world, is a selfish one. It only has my interests in mind, but what about the lost? Isn’t it better to suffer for Christ and see him glorified than to never suffer and leave the world with no witnesses?
In Philippians, Paul talks of the tension between wanting to be with Christ and wanting to remain so that Christ can be glorified.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard-pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”Philippians 1:21-24
He goes on to say…
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”Philippians 2:14-15
Even Paul struggled with the tension of being in the world, but not of the world. Yet, he recognized the necessity of it all so that God could be glorified, and so that the Church could continue to be a light in this dark world. Therefore, take heart and stand firm. Be the light God has called you to be. Be sanctified and foster unity among the Church, and bring God glory through your life.