Not Of the World
Imagine you’re sitting somewhere in the desert and suddenly you see what looks like a meteorite hurtling through the atmosphere. Then, it CRASHES into the desert near you.
You run to see what that was and when you get to it you see it’s not a huge space rock. Rather, it is the remains of a man-made satellite. Over time, its orbit has degraded and no one did anything to stop that and, tonight, it smashed into the desert.
Now that it has left its intended destiny, it will become one with the world.
Speaking to His Father in prayer about the disciples…which includes us as Christians…Jesus said this:
“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:15-16)
What did Jesus mean by that? Truly, we who follow Jesus live on the earth. So, how can we not be of the world?
I’d like to define terms here.
The earth is this physical ball on which God has chosen to be the place where we spend our time between our physical conception and death. God created it by saying something.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
The word “world” is a totally separate thing in the Bible. In John 17, Jesus uses the Greek word “kosmos” which is translated as “world”. Earlier in the chapter He makes a statement in which he also mentions the “earth” using the Greek word “ghay” which simply means “soil”:
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (John 17:4-5)
This tells us that there was a time when the “earth” existed but the “world” did not.
So, what exactly is “the world” (kosmos) and when did it begin?
The word “kosmos” refers to the order of things which God set in place in the universe and on the earth. His heavenly order was originally in place on the earth.
Lucifer was cast down to the earth for his pride-driven rebellion in heaven. Isaiah speaks of it: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12)
Jesus tells how He watched it happen: “And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’” (Luke 10:18)
And John describes it in Revelations: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’” (Revelations 12:7-10)
Later, Adam, who had the authority to steward the earth, handed his authority over to Satan and at that time God’s order was pushed aside or ignored and a different “kosmos” began to be practiced on the earth. This “order”, if you will, reflects the chaotic, rebellious and deceptive nature of its origin, the devil.
This is the background and foundation to what I believe the Lord would have me write today.
The earth has a gravitational pull which can cause a satellite to leave its orbit and crash into the dirt – unless someone uses energy to constantly make orbit adjustments. If someone does, the satellite will remain in the orbit its designers had in mind.
In much the same way, the WORLD has a sort of gravitational pull. There is a constant effort to get us to look downward instead of up to the heavens.
Satan has always and will always want our worship. That’s what got him ejected from heaven. He wanted the worship deserving of only the One True God.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:12-14)
He even wanted Jesus to worship him when He was on the earth, challenging satan’s “kosmos” or chaotic order:
“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.'’" Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” (Matthew 4:8-11)
As I mentioned before, satan was cast down to the earth and in the Garden successfully tempted Adam to do his bidding. At this point Adam virtually stopped spreading God’s influence through His kosmos and began to practice and model the devil’s chaotic “order”. All fleshly desires, all resistance against the influence of heaven, all evil thinking, all selfishness and meanness stem from satan’s kosmos at work on the earth.
This is what Jesus called “the world” whenever He mentioned the term. Jesus wasn’t referring to the earth itself when He said that; rather, He was referring to the systems employed on the earth for survival and provision and protection which exclude God.
These systems permeate the earth. They have oozed into the Lord’s Church in the form of systems, models, purpose statements, committee meetings, and the legalism which plagues almost 100% of Christian organizations and congregations.
I said earlier that the WORLD has a gravitational pull just like the EARTH does. This is what causes so many of us to become obsessed with the chaos of the world. We can’t seem to resist staring at the train wreck which is our current world situation. Wars, murders, affairs, thefts, inappropriate, immoral and illegal behaviors within and without the Church…these things captivate us. They bring anxiety and depression into countless souls.
Instead of being comforted and encouraged by Jesus who dwells in all Christians through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, most believers are overwhelmed by the WORLD. It controls them.
It functionally rules their souls.
Jesus did not suffer His entire time on the earth for us to live like this.
I met a woman recently in a store who was one of those refreshingly honest believers. When I asked how she was doing she confessed that she was very depressed. She told me that watching the news, listening to talk radio, watching social media was overwhelming to her. Everything seemed to be so bad!
She was right. The WORLD is a mess. What would you say to her?
Here is what I said: “You know, Father God did not build us to be looking down all the time.” She looked at me confused and said, “WHAT?!?!?!” and I responded by quoting some Bible verses to her.
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)
“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35)
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2-3)
I told her that these verses were about focus. Whatever we focus on will affect our souls. Looking at nothing but depressing things will depress us.
This doesn’t mean that we should live as if nothing bad is happening. That is delusional. The Psalms are filled with verses in which hurtful things are acknowledged but, then, the writer turns his FOCUS to the Lord.
“Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD; let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart fails me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me! Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion who seek to destroy my life; let them be driven backward and brought to dishonor who wish me evil. Let them be confounded because of their shame, who say to me, ‘Aha, aha!’ Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let such as love Your salvation say continually, ‘The LORD be magnified!’ But I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” (Psalm 40:11-17)
We should take note of the mayhem in the world and then turn to the Lord and give HIM most of our focus. Praying is one way to do that. Reading God’s Word aloud to and for ourselves is another.
I asked the lady when was the last time she spent any quality time with her own kind…with other believers. Her first response was to guiltily admit she hadn’t been to church in a while.
This is one sign of the devil’s kosmos at work through legalism; she felt like she had let God down. I told her that church was a good thing to do and that I highly encouraged her to take part in regular worship with others. Then I asked her if she was aware that taking a Sabbath rest wasn’t for God’s sake but, really, for our own.
Jesus speaking: “And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’” (Matthew 2:27)
I asked her when she last spent ANY time with other Christians…in a church building or having tea or coffee or playing cards or sharing a meal in someone’s home. She just stared at me.
Jesus speaking: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
I truly believe that all these activities are ways we can “have church” that do not require dedicated buildings, huge budgets, overt leadership and bulky organization. Jesus did it all the time while walking through the countryside.
We parted by me encouraging her to do these things, if for no other reason, to balance out the opportunity the enemy had to affect her soul and hurt her. I shared some social media outlets which glorified the Lord.
Just as a satellite has to periodically exert energy to adjust its orbit and stay where it is intended to be, so a human soul has to adjust itself in relation to the Lord so as to not fall victim to the pull of the world. That can take some energy but its energy well spent.
Let’s be aware of the world and the ability it has to draw the unaware to itself. Let’s commit to remain faithful to the Lord and focused upon Him more than anything else.
Let’s become who He has in mind for us to become.
We’re not of the world; we’re just in it for a season.
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.
© November 17, 2022
For use with permission