Today’s Scripture: John 15:18-25
18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’
Jesus says in this passage that the world is pretty much going to hate his disciples – unless those disciples “belong to the world”. Then, the world will love them. So, what does it mean to belong to the world or not belong to the world?
Some Christians throughout history have taken a desire NOT to belong to the world very seriously. They have gone so far as to remove themselves from society – creating communities where they would have no interaction with the world and those in it. This, of course, is an extreme. However, they certainly do not belong to the world.
I’m not sure this is what Jesus meant when he said disciples should “come out of the world”. Instead, I think Jesus is saying that disciples should live their lives in the world – but different from the world.
This is a hard balance to achieve. The easy answer would be to just cut off all contact with the world. Or, on the other extreme, to just live like everyone else in the world. The more difficult route is the one Jesus calls us to: being salt and light.
For salt and light to work, it must interact with the element it’s acting upon. Salt has to rub up against meat to flavor it. Light has to come into darkness to dispel it. But the salt does not become like the meat and the light does not become like the darkness. Otherwise, they just would not work.
It is tempting to just cut off from the world. It is also a temptation to just become like the world. But as disciples we are called to something more. We are called to be different.
Today, ask yourself how you can live as salt and light in the hours and days ahead.
God give us the strength and courage to live a your disciples in the world without removing ourselves from the world or becoming like the world. Help us to be salt and light in every interaction this day.