Not of the World!
George Everard, 1885
"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." John 17:16
You must not pass by these words and reckon them of small importance. They speak of a separation that is essential. Three times on the same night before His betrayal did our Lord repeat them. "If you were of the world, the world would love his own. Because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you" (John 15:19: so also 17:14-16).
An excellent illustration has been given of this separation.
Among the currents in the Atlantic Ocean is the great Gulf Stream. In parts it is sixty miles wide, and has been called a river in the ocean. The waters in this stream are, on the average, twenty degrees higher in temperature than the surrounding waters; it preserves its waters distinct from those of the sea on either side, so that the eye can trace the line of contact. It retains its physical identity for thousands of miles — casting branches and fruits of tropical trees, onto the coasts of the Hebrides and of Norway. It has an immense influence in moderating the extreme cold of winter in this latter country and elsewhere. All around the coast where its influence is felt, the atmosphere is many degrees of temperature higher than in the interior. Moreover, it prevents stagnation, and keeps one-fourth part of the waters of the Atlantic in constant motion.
In many ways, the Christian is like this Gulf Stream.
Like the stream in the ocean, he is in the world, but yet distinct and separate. He is not conformed to it. He has a higher temperature; for the love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit.
Look at the great Pattern which he is bound to follow. Christ was no ascetic. He was in contact with the world at all points. He went into the house of publican and of Pharisee. He mingled with men in the streets, on the mountain side, on the sea-shore. Yet there was . . .
a holy elevation,
a living above the world while He was in it.
So must you be if you are His follower. You must not forsake the path of common life. You must not shut yourself up in the cell of a monk, or imagine that you have nothing to do with the world to which God sends you. But while you are in the world — let your spirit rise above it. Through the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus, live a new and heavenly life. Let your eye be upward to a Father in Heaven, and your hand engaged in doing His work.
Like the stream to which I refer, remember that you have a mighty influence, and it is always for good if you are living after the mind of the Lord Jesus. You keep the world from the stagnation of death by your efforts for the spiritual and temporal well-being of those around you. You stir up others to a healthy activity by your own zeal for God.
Moreover, as the warmth of the Gulf Stream lessens the intense cold felt in northern climates — so the true Christian, by his own holy life, raises the standard of morality and truth, and thus lessens the sin which is around him.
Still further, he often brings the fruits and flowers of Paradise to the neighborhood where he dwells. In his own daily walk, and in the example of a godly home, ordered in the fear and love of God — the heavenly graces and virtues of meekness, forbearance, self-denial, gentleness, love, patience, and the like shine forth, and testify by their fragrance of the country from whence they derive their origin.
Now bring home the question to yourself — Is this your life? Is there something about you higher and nobler and more Christ-like than in the most? Is there in you a hope and a power that lifts you above the base, earthly life that satisfies the majority? Is there at least a glimmer of the bright light that shone forth in all Christ said and did? Is there a distinctness of purpose about you that gives others an impression that you have a motive and a principle which they do not possess? Is your daily conduct a real benefit to others, by showing them their sin, and manifesting the beauty of holy living?
Perhaps not. But if not, what then? Will you rest content? Will you please yourself, and forget the claims that Christ has upon you? Will you throw away the privilege you might possess of scattering blessings around you, and having in yourself the testimony of God's favor?
There is but one way to obtain it. Receive by faith the benefit of Christ's sacrifice, and yield yourself to Him to be filled with His Spirit and grace — and then His life will be your life, and in His life you shall live for God.