August 12, In the World, Not of It

Today’s reading: Psalms 56-60

“I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords” - Psalm 57:4.

Many of the psalms express the psalmist’s struggles to live a righteous life in the midst of evil people. These writers knew they could not withdraw from the world, but had to live for God in the midst of it, while trusting the Lord for protection and vindication of their faith lifestyle. Yet often God’s people have taken themselves out of the world, sometimes by being in church often (if not always), and at times by cloistering themselves away so as not to have contact with this rough-and-tumble world. Jesus addressed this tension when He said,

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:14-17).

How are you doing as you live in this world as a pilgrim? Have you withdrawn into your own world? Have you isolated yourself, or do you trust God for protection while you serve as His agent of reconciliation and hope in the world? Can you see that God loves this world and wants you to love it while not deriving your identity from it?