“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16).
Jesus prays for the church’s desire to remain different from the worldliness that tries to influence her. We live in times of social confusion, and maybe even revolution, and the church has an opportunity to show the distinct nature of God during these times. To do this we must stay on guard and watch out for the enemy’s attacks (1 Peter 5:8). He is on a mission to destroy the church and to succeed he is trying to get us to lose our distinction. We are living in the midst of a hypocritical world that accepts cheating, lying and killing as the norm. But the church has been set apart from the world’s ugliness by being transformed into the distinct beauty of the Christ.
When people of the world finally come to themselves and see not only the error, but the terror of their ways, they will go looking for something that is different. And that is what the church claims to be, different. Jesus reminds us to, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). People are hearing the claim of the church to be different, but are they seeing the difference? We must do more than just say we are different, we must live in a manner that shows us as different.
One way the church shows her distinction is to live up to what they proclaim. When the church says she believes God’s word to be their authority, then she must abide by the guidelines of truth. When she teaches that the Bible says we are to assemble on the first day of the week, then her members must be faithful to the assembly. Otherwise she will be seen as just another hypocrite in the world instead of a saint in the kingdom. The church believes the grace of God has been revealed in His commands. She is willing to sacrifice everything to make sure they reveal an obedient heart to a world that does not see that attitude anywhere else. If we just hear God’s word and do not act upon the opportunities it reveals, we are just as common as any other assembly, whether it be a religious group or a social club. The Lord’s church is called to the discomfort of a cross and not the comfort of a shade tree. Staying faithful to this call makes her different from any other organization found on this earth. Let’s continue to be faithful.
Another way the church reveals a distinct nature is in her priorities. Notice what Jesus taught the first disciples: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). This is not something the world has not heard before from other groups, but what makes the church distinct is their devotion to this claim (Acts 2:41-47). If we just talk about being devoted to this new priority system and not actually live by it, then we are no different than the worldly politician that says he is devoted to the country’s needs and then gets in office to serve only the needs of those who support his cause. The church is different because they “have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer” their flesh that determines their steps (Galatians 2:20). It is the cause of Christ that determines the priority of their desires.
Now is the time for the church to stand tall and be recognized for her devotion to God. The world will die in their hypocrisy but the church will live in her distinction. Her guiding authority will remain throughout eternity (Matthew 24:35). Her distinction is seen in her dedication to the life offered in Her Savior (John 14:6). Her beauty is seen in her devotion to be different from the world and her never ending desire to be more and more like Christ each and every day. Let’s continue to be faithfully devoted to truth and continue to be blessed (Matthew 5:2-7:27).
In His Love,