15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. John 17:15-19 (NLT)
Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice. He sacrificed himself so that we could be holy, set apart by the Word.
God doesn't remove us from the world. He doesn't negate the consequences of a fallen world in our lives. We deal with the same things that non-Christians deal with--sickness, death, financial loss, suffering, evil--while God doesn't completely shield us from those things, He walks with us through them. He empowers us to triumph in them... to thrive when we should not even be surviving by the world's standards... to have joy in the midst of our sorrow... to have hope when all looks hopeless.
We are truly in this world. We are all in. He has not removed us from suffering and pain because that's part of living in this world. But even as we must actively participate in what the world gives, it is not all in vain. We are immersed in all that this world has to offer. And yet we are not consumed by it. We are not set apart from the world. We are set apart in the world. We are right there with our fellow-sufferers... Christians and non-Christians alike.
And yet, unlike non-Christians, we have hope. We have something burning deep down inside that sets us apart--makes us special, different, holy. Because we know the truth. That's why we need a daily dose of the Word. We need to read it, study it, hear it, apply it. The Word is what sets us apart. The Word is what makes us different even as we face the same forces that unbelievers face.
How can we not share that?! How can we walk along beside someone who suffers as we have suffered, who faces the same difficulties that we have faced... and not offer the hope that has carried us through.
It's the Word... the truth that sets us apart--makes us different even when our circumstances are much the same. We can't neglect the Word--the Truth. I can't neglect it. It's what sets me apart, makes me holy, allows me to respond differently. Only the Word.