The Spirit Discipline: Preparing for Hostilities

JOHN 15:18–25

The word world can be problematic for Christians. On the one hand, God made the world, and he made it good. In contrast to Eastern religions like Hinduism or Buddhism or some of the early Greek philosophers like Plato, Christians do not see the world as a bad place from which we need to escape. Jesus took on human flesh and lived inside his creation precisely because he liked it. When Christians forget this, we can slip into a false asceticism like Saint Simeon Stylites in the fifth century. He lived on an elevated platform on top of a pole so he could escape the “world.”
On the other hand, as you read in today’s verses, we are to be wary of the “world.”

When used in this sense, it is not a reference to the physical creation of God but the human system erected to order life without reference to God. God does not like this.
For over a thousand years of the Christian era, it has not always been easy to make a distinction between the world (in the social sense) and the church. The social order was once dominated by the church, and everyone was baptized at birth into the Christian faith. Certainly the world in a negative sense was still active, but it was cloaked in Christian garb. Now the process of secularization is putting an end to that blurring. Christians who hold to the Lord’s truth are and will be characterized as close-minded bigots and called derogatory names.


Unfortunately, one of the reasons for a negative response to Christians can be our fault. We may bring the name of the Lord into derision if we aren’t living what we believe. Certainly we can expect, according to Jesus, to be hated as Christians. But it should come because we are following the Lord. Jesus tells us to expect that and to be prepared.

DISCIPLINE

Tell the Lord that you want to be able to live according to his Word rather than according to the world. Perhaps you could picture yourself as ore in a refiner’s large pot. Ask him to bring the impurities to the surface and then remove them so that you can have a pure heart.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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