"I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word" (John 17:6).
In the wonderful intercessory prayer of Christ for His disciples just before His death, there are several important references dealing with the relation of the Christian believer to the world around him. In the first place, according to our text, they have been called out of the world, and thus are not really a part of its system any more, once they belong to Christ.
Yet, they necessarily must still live in the world. "These are in the world....I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil" (vv.11,15). They are not of the world, however, for they have been separated from the world, and unto Christ, whom the world continues to crucify daily. "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (v.14). Like Christ, they are bound to be hated by the world.
Nevertheless, Christ has sent them into the world as His witnesses. "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world....that the world may believe that thou hast sent me....I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (vv.18,21,23).
And the most wonderful thing about all these relationships to the world we live in is that God planned them even before He created the world! "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (v.24). HMM