There are many issues facing us today that seem to question our faith. Hot topic issues that seem to constantly be in the news: abortion, gay marriage, and healthcare are a few that come to mind. Secular media and popular opinion among many in our society today are telling us how we should feel about these issues. They tell us that women can do whatever they want with their bodies. They tell us a baby is not really a baby while in the womb. They tell us that anyone can be married and to think otherwise is prejudice. They tell us that healthcare for everyone means providing everyone with ways to prevent life instead of protect us. They tell us different things almost daily on what we should or should not eat for a long and healthy life. The media tells us how we should look, how much time we should spend in the gym, what clothing we should wear, how we should behave. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that perhaps our values are wrong. Perhaps as times are changing, we should alter our beliefs as well. As state after state legalizes gay marriage, as even in the wake of the Gosnel trial people still insist that the tragedy should be prevented by better access to abortion rather than by eliminating abortion, as the media tells us sex is everything, beauty is everything, money is everything. When we are bombarded daily with these popular opinions it can be easy to doubt.
As followers of Christ, we are not called to give in to worldly views and temptations. Jesus came to earth to teach us the truth, and even He was hated for it. Just because what we believe is not popular opinion, does not make it wrong.
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:14-17
These words from today’s Gospel spoken in prayer by Jesus Christ to Our Heavenly Father serve as a reminder to us of who we truly are. As Jesus says, we are not of this world. We are not made for the materialistic society we live in. We are not made to conform to popular public opinion. We are created in God’s own image for a world beyond our own. We are created to spread His love and His Word to those we come in contact with here on earth before spending eternity with God in heaven.
But notice that Jesus says He is not asking the Father to take us away from the world, but to protect us from evil. We may not be of this world, but we are in it. We cannot run away from the trials that face us in this life. We cannot avoid the issues that plague our society today. They are a part of the world and we are in this world. Instead, we need to focus on God and take care to spread His love to everyone in this world so that they might see Christ in us. Even as the world might say that what we believe is wrong, we need to stand firm in our beliefs while still being loving to everyone. That is a tough call! We cannot claim to be opposed to gay marriage because of our faith and then in the same breath condemn and judge those who are in disagreement with us. We cannot condemn abortion and then judge women who find themselves in that position. We cannot call for a greater protection of life while calling for the death penalty on those who have abused it. There is a fine line between standing up for our beliefs, and judging another person. While we are certainly called to stand up for what is right, we must always remember that although we may judge the action, we are never to judge the person. Not one of us is without sin and only Our Father is to pass judgment on any one of us. When things gets tough, we need only to look to the Father who will protect us from the evil one in whatever form he might take.
Romans 12:2 tells us more about living in this world
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I love how this verse tells us to renew our minds so we may prove the will of God to be perfect! God’s will, while beyond our comprehension, is perfect. And while we are not of the world, we are called to be open to the Spirit, to renew our minds and allow God’s love to transform us so that we might show the world we live in how great, how perfect, our God is.