Thank God, Jesus prayed for us before He died! He said that His followers are “not of the world.” But he also said, “My prayer, Father, is not that You take them out of the world.” This idea of staying “in the world” but not being “of the world” must be pretty important to Jesus because He included the phrase in His last words on earth. What does “the world” mean, though?
The original New Testament word for “world” is “kosmos.” And it has three different meanings in Scripture:
- “World” refers to the physical place (which we now know is a planet we call earth) where humankind exists. It is where we live and move about daily.
- “World” can also refer to humankind itself. Humankind is the object of God’s love – all the earth’s inhabitants. You are the focus of God’s love; however, “the world” also includes the part of humankind that rejects God’s love. Rejection is what Jesus had in mind when He said, “if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. (John 15:18).
- “World” can also refer to all the material things and abstract ideas on the earth, which can include worldly wisdom, worldly ideas, and worldly pursuits hostile to God. This “world” is organized by Satan, our spiritual enemy, to keep people alienated from God.
Worldy living is that person or thing that causes you and everyone around them to look toward something other than God. It means to copy the standards or ideas of unsaved people or people who don’t love God instead of living like Christ. A person who wants to serve God will not copy the ways the world lives but will take direction from the Lord Jesus and the Bible. I will tell you that the popular crowd where you live is probably in trouble.
Let me explain. I understand that it is hard to be lonely as a young person living in this world. When I was in High School or Secondary School, there were only three of us Christian in the entire school of over a thousand students. We each felt the pressure to fit in or bold into the ways of the rest of the world. If the crowd or your friends are doing wrong or against God, fitting in with them will only hurt your relationship with God. The world has a lot of fads, meaning things that come and go. I remember in my youth some things were popular when I was 11 years old, but then the same things were not popular when I was 14. Then when I turned 17 years old, the things that were popular when I was fourteen weren’t popular anymore! That’s how the world runs! People go after anything popular of the day, whether it’s right or wrong. And every day, thousands of teens risk their future the safety of others and even their own lives by giving in to what’s popular.
I remember the story of a young man when I was in High School. He had his girlfriend in the car, and he got drunk. He was drinking alcohol, and he got in his car with his girlfriend in the passenger seat. He was driving on a city road at over 90 miles per hour. Another car pulled out in front of him, and he hit the car. The impact sent his car into a telephone pole. The momentum of the crash was so strong that it split his car in half and killed his girlfriend, sitting in the passenger side of his car. This young man who chose to fit in with the crowd, go to the party and get drunk caused something that changed the rest of this life and took the life of someone he loved.
This is what the devil wants to do to you today, young people. He wants to tempt you to look around at the things your friends are doing and make you feel like you need to do those things just to fit in and be part of the popular crowd. I want to challenge you this morning. God calls you not to be a part of this world or the things against God.
Jesus went through this struggle too. He came to the earth totally committed to doing His father’s will. When Jesus was young, His parents found Him in the temple. They were confused and questioned why He stayed behind to teach in the temple. As Jesus began to preach and travel to different places, the religious leaders pressured Him to change His message. They wanted Jesus’s message to fit their message, the message of the world, and even threatened Him with death. When He went into the wilderness, the devil pressured Jesus to give in to the things of this world. Then before His crucifixion, while He was at His weakest, the devil pressured Jesus with the people of this world. Finally, as Jesus was dying, those that were there mocked Him, still trying to pressure Him to give in to their worldly ideas. We are no different than how Jesus or the Apostles were in the Bible times. If we choose every day to walk in Christ’s footsteps, we are walking in this world, but we are not a part of the worldly ideas against Christ.
So young person, the next time one of your popular friends tries to pressure you to smoke, what will you do? Will you choose to be a part of this world or a part of Christ? Here in America, many young people begin smoking cigarettes at a young age. Then this leads to doing other types of drugs. Smoking cigarettes is dangerous. Cigarettes have many toxins proven to cause heart, lung, and many different respiratory illnesses. Smoking is filthy. It stains your teeth and fouls your clothing with a bad odor. I’ve seen young people start smoking to fit in, just to be a part of their friends and part of this world. Then ten years later, they are so sorry they ever started smoking, but now the person is bound by a habit they can’t quit.
As we go through life this New Year, will we choose to live every day for Christ, or will we choose to be a part of the popular and what the world has around us? Let’s look again at Jesus’s prayer. ‘
John 17: 14-16
“14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
Young people, I am calling on each and every one of you to refuse to be a part of the worldly things against God. I encourage you today to choose what’s right over what’s popular because I’ve found many times in my Christian walk with God that what is popular is something against God.