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March 15, 2021
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
Jesus is utterly realistic about the world in which we live. On the one hand, “the world” refers to God’s good creation and the people who inhabit it. This is the world that God loves and which Jesus will die to save. But this very same “world” is also the one that has rebelled against its creator and continues to reject him. As a result, this world has fallen into darkness and decay, and sadly this is the world to which we all belong as a result of human sin.
Yet Jesus assures all of his followers that he has chosen us “out of the world” by his utterly free grace. To be chosen means to separate. Jesus has called us “out of the world” as salt and light to preserve the world against its decay and to illuminate the world’s darkness.
As salt and light, our true identity no longer rests in this rebellious and fallen world but rather in Jesus. Jesus thus prepares us for the fact that if our life is now bound up with his, then we should expect to experience opposition. If the world hates him, it will hate us. If the world persecutes him, it will persecute us.
How are Christians called “out of the world” in order to live “for the world”?