12“While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
We are eavesdropping in Jesus' prayer to his Father. Jesus is praying for his followers, both immediate and distant (like us!).
The theme of Jesus and his followers being "not of the world" is repeated and repetition usually in Scripture is a sign of importance -- "take note!" the repeated phrase is saying.
Although we as followers of Jesus are not of the world, we are nevertheless sent "into the world" by Jesus. The pattern starts with the Father sending His Son into the world, followed by the Son sending his followers into the world. The concept of "missions" is based on this sending. The Latin term, missio Dei, captures this fundamental action: As the Father sends the Son into the world, the Son sends us into the world.
Therefore, we can truly say in the fashion of the Blues Brothers, "We're on a mission from God." Mission indicates purposiveness. What is that purpose? To be sent as followers of Jesus, bearing witness to the reality of God's salvation and redemption in Christ. To be sent as bearers of God's love and presence. To be sent as Hope Reformers in all areas of life. To be sent as missional friends of Jesus.
"Of the world" indicates taking this world as our true home and place of significance, the values of the world determining our own values. "In the world" indicates taking this world as the stage for our lives and actions. Much like an actor who acts on the stage, our actions as followers of Jesus take place on the stage of this world. The sense of our true home, the source of our significance, the very value system we believe in comes from elsewhere -- call it "Heaven," or the "Kingdom of God." We are obviously "in" the world but in a profound way we do not belong to this world in terms of worldly loves and desires.
In order to be sent well into the world, Jesus prays that his followers be "sanctified." Notions of "consecrate," "made free from sin," "purify," "set apart," "made holy" all apply. We cannot go into world simply as we are, with our unsanctified minds and habits -- for otherwise, we would simply be "of the world" and there would be no difference between us and the rest of the world. How can we bear witness to the One who makes a difference when there is no difference in our lives?
Without sanctification, there is no difference between the world and us. If there is no difference, there is no missional impact.
Within this missional character of our lives, there is one we need to be aware of: the evil one. Jesus prays to the Father, "I ask you to protect them from the evil one." We are not to live in fear of the evil one, but we are called to be aware of the evil one's presence and actions. "Awareness without Obsession."
We are given authority over demons and demonic powers in the name of Jesus. To live blind to demonic reality is to live blind to a significant aspect of reality.
A missional life involves spiritual warfare and prayers that advance against our spiritual enemies.
Some of these themes we've touched upon this past Sunday in the Sunday message. Hopefully this devotional reminds us of our missional (meaning, "we're on a mission from God") calling and that we are encouraged by Jesus' own prayers for us.
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you for praying for your followers. We thank you for sharing with us why we are here in this world -- as those who have been sent. Literally, "apostolos" ("one sent forth"). Help us to be sanctified in your truth which is your word. Steep us and cleanse us in your word. Help us to be aware of the evil one. Moreover, help us to advance against the evil one. Teach us how to pray. Teach us about spiritual warfare. Give us discernment about the spiritual enemies in our midst and in our region that resist the Kingdom of God. We thank you and love you that we are not alone. Thank you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In your name, Amen.