If we could boil all the world’s religions and political philosophies down to their essentials what would we come up with? Are they real alternatives or are they just facets of the same worldly way of life?
We will see that there are only two ways and examine the world’s ways.
We will look at John 17:6-19 and examine the two ways.
God’s Way and the World’s are Opposite
John 17:6-19 is part of what some call the real Lord’s prayer, a prayer he prayed for us in the faith community, shortly before his death. It is a prayer for those whom the Father had given him, and that includes us (vs 20) in a chain of faith that passed from believer to believer down through history. We listen in on Jesus’ prayer as did the disciples. He prayed about what God gave him and what he in turn gave us. Giving illustrates the difference between God’s way and the world’s way. God gives but the world takes. God gives to Jesus and Jesus gives to us and we give to others. In this context the “world” (kosmos) refers to the inhabitants of the world, an ungodly multitude, alienated from God, and hostile to the cause of Christ.
In But Not Of
Jesus prayed that we would be separated from the world, not in where we live but, in our behavior. We are in the world but do not belong to it, as ambassadors of a different kingdom. God does not remove us from our neighbors but sent us to them to give to them. But the world is a spiritually dangerous place. In John 17:11-12, 15 Jesus prayed for our protection from the evil one. Our separation from the world in spirit is indicated in vs 17 & 19 by the word sanctify. It means to make holy, make us saints. How? God uses the word of truth to separates us from the world and make us saints. That is Jesus, the word made flesh according to the context of John. That truth is what we follow and which sanctifies us.
No Need for Self-Justification
The world teaches us to justify ourselves. We don't have to pretend that we are more perfect than we are or defend our egos. We can freely admit our sinfulness. We simply acknowledge that God forgave all our sins. He set us free. And we are free to forgive others and be different. When we know we are forgiven, we can show respect and love to ourselves and others. There is no need to play the world’s games of belittling others and pretending that we have no faults. Sanctification is a process that develops when our faith is fed from the Word of Truth. If Jesus prayed for us once, do we think that he continues to pray for us? Pastors take their church directories and pray for everyone on the list. I believe that Jesus still prays for us.
The 2 Ways
Psalm 1 refers to two ways. I hesitate to accept the title Two Ways of Life because only one is the way of life and the other is the way of death. It is the same as the contrast between the way of the world and God’s way in John 17:6-19. Psalm 1 contradicts modern thought which would describe happiness as a psychological state, by claiming that the more of an ethical and upright lifestyle we live the happier we are. Whether we walk, stand or sit we are tempted by advice of the wicked. Happy are those who delight in and think about God’s instruction all day long. They have staying power and bear fruit. The wicked will not last. Even now in the church, that division is there and the wicked will eventually perish unless they repent.
One way to tell whether we belong to the world (John 17:6-19) is by our thoughts. How much do we meditate on God’s word? We are sanctified by the truth in God’s word, not by false interpretations of it, but by the truth that is there. Psalm 1 says that the the righteous are always meditating on God’s instructions. Meditation in the Bible means thinking, not some vain repetition of a mantra or emptying the mind. Christian meditation is one way that we love God with our minds. It is thinking about God’s instructions in the Bible in which the Holy Spirit plays the role of illuminating the Holy Scriptures to our understanding (1 Corinthians 2:9-10; 2 Corinthians 4:6). Repetition of key passages of Holy Scripture during services helps to commit them to memory and daily meditation.
He Ascended into Heaven
In Luke 24:44-53 we read of power from on high to enable Christ’s followers to proclaim repentance and forgiveness to the whole world. Our job is to proclaim a better way, the way to life. The world’s way is that some win and others lose. Heaven’s way is that everyone wins. Jesus had planted the first Christian church with a core group of 12 men and several women. He taught them principles and left them to apply them. One of the kindest things that a church founder can do today is to then leave so that the newly planted church can thrive. Jesus did not leave it until it was fully equipped with everything it needed to multiply, 3 years worth of his teaching and example, to be followed up by the ever present help of the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 24:44-53 the word that is important. Jesus teaches us in summary how the Gospel is to be proclaimed: Christ was to suffer and rise again. In turn we are to proclaim repentance and forgiveness in his name. The Old Testament Scriptures point to Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection and ascension. This is the full preaching of the Gospel. What does this have to do with our passage in John 17:6-19? Colossians 3:1-2 gives us an answer. In Christ, Christians have been raised out of the dead ways of this world. If we have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above. We Christians do not seek the ways of the world, but the things of God. Repentance is a turning of the heart from the way of this world to the way of God.
This world’s way is not the way to life. There is only one way to life and only one source of life. God is the way and the source of eternal life. We have been raised with Christ, so let us seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for we have died, and our lives are hidden with Christ in God.