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. (John 17:14)
How seriously am I supposed to take this kind of statement from Jesus? What does He mean? Am I really not of this world? And who is it that is included in the world? I don’t feel any particular animosity in my life from nonbelievers. Was that only for the first century believers who paved the way that I am now free to walk unhampered by society? Is the world simply some really bad people? Where is that middle ground? There must be some group of benign middle people, yes? Well-meaning and just a little lost? They can’t be the same as the really bad people, can they? And why don’t I don’t find any real pressure on my life from people that are of the world?
I have often been asked by people if I really believe that there is only one way to Heaven. They are surprised when I say there are actually two. If you prefer, you can live a completely sinless life. Or, as the alternative to that, you can receive grace from the only One who ever did live a sinless life. From the perspective of many people (even Christians who I have heard try to skirt the question or soften its weight), God is unfair in providing salvation only through Jesus. They might ask, “What if people don’t want to follow Him? What if they are spiritual and nice and seeking God, but they don’t see why they have to get to God through Jesus?” They just aren’t feeling it.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
According to Jesus there are two diametrically opposed worlds. One is made up of people opposed to Him; in every way and at the very core of their being. The other is made up of people who hear Him and respond with heartfelt love and complete devotion. No middle ground. None. God has given Jesus to the world as a complete revelation of Himself. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” he said to Philip (John 14:9).
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
There are two eternities; one with God and one without. The one with God is the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said He did not come to condemn the world, for it is already condemned. So the invitation to be with God is an invitation away from a certain destiny. It is His act of mercy. The sacrificial death of Jesus is a demonstration of the great love of a merciful God who would do for us what we could not do for ourselves. And so the cross stands at the apex of history as a judgment against this world of death. It is a clear cry out to all those who would reject the self-centred ways of this world and humbly enter the Kingdom of God as servants of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is no place for proud people. Its citizens have given their lives to their Lord. They are servants. They are self-sacrificing because that is the DNA of the family. They are transformed from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
The nature of the place God has prepared for His people is experienced here and now in His church. It is the place that is supposed to turn the privileges of life and association upside down. The people who gather are from unlikely places and would be some of the last people you would ever expect to love one another. But they do, because they are Jesus’ disciples and that is what we do. According to John 13:34-35, loving one another is the evidence that we are Jesus’ disciples. These messy things called churches contain within them the seeds of a Kingdom that is beautiful and eternal.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
The revelation is to all men. It is an invitation to come to know Him, to spend eternity with Him. It is why I tell everyone know about the good news, about the “other way” from the one we were all on. Two ways, two worlds, two eternities. One life.