(John 17:15 NIV) My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
Jesus did not ask our Father to take us out of the world, but to protect us from the enemy. Have you ever thought about that? Why aren't Christians raptured out of this world the moment they accept Christ as their savior? Wouldn't that make sense? After all He told us not to be of this world, so why should we remain here where we are tempted and abused and often feel disconnected from Him?
Before I tell you why I think we remain here, let me tell you some reasons we are not left here. We are not left in the world to suffer. Christ has paid our debt in full, there is no reason for us to be purified through earthly sufferings. This is the same reason I cannot believe in purgatory. If Christ died for our sins as the perfect sacrifice and His blood covers our sins from the Father's sight, then it is wrong to believe that we will have to suffer punishment before entering the presence of God. Either Christ was the complete, perfect sacrifice or He was insufficient, it can't be both.
God poured out His holy wrath on Christ when He died on the cross. That wrath was for the sins of Adam which had already been committed and for our sins which were still nearly 2,000 years in the future. (Heb 10:10 NIV) And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Once for all, so you see we are not left here in the world to pay penitence.
We are not left here to raise money for God. He does not need our money. (Psa 50:9 NIV) I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. God could fund whatever He wanted to without one Christian remaining in this world. We are arrogant when we think that God wants us to tithe so that He can do things with our money. Yes we use His money (our tithe) to do His work, but He does not need our pitiful pennies. If you don't believe me you should read the story of Nebuchadnezzar. This was not a God fearing man, he did not worship the living God, yet he was God's servant, because God made him do His will. Don't for a moment think that God is now incapable of doing the same thing.
We are not left here to restrain evil. We should attempt to restrain whatever evil we can, but that is not our reason for being left behind. (2 Th 2:7 NIV) For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. The One referred to here is the Holy Spirit. So you see that is not our job either.
We are not left here to give Satan a hard time. Without Christ's help Satan would eat us for lunch, he would destroy us all within moments. If you ever start thinking that Satan is weak, look at this verse: (Jude 1:9 NIV) But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" I am not saying that we should fear him. (1 John 4:4 NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. As long as we have Christ on our side, we don't have to fear the enemy.
Please don't misunderstand me, I think that we are all called to do all of these things at times. We all suffer but not as punishment, we are called to tithe, we are called to restrain evil, we are called to resist the devil, but those are not the reasons we are kept in this world after we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. The reason we are left behind is so that we can reach others with the good news of how they too can be free from condemnation. (Rom 10:14 NIV) How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? That is our job, our purpose, our reason for remaining here. God uses us to reach others. If we are not reaching out to the lost, there is no reason for us to be here. This life is all we know and it is easy for us to think more highly of it then we should. Think about what awaits us: (Rev 21:4 NIV) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
If we had any real idea of what awaited us we would all be constantly looking up at the sky waiting for Christ's return. Maybe it is good that we don't realize how great that will be. Yet since He has left us here to do one job for Him, should we not do that job to the best of our abilities? Too many Christians take winning souls lightly. We are the sowers of the seed, if we refuse to sow how will the seed grow?
Again God is powerful enough to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ without our help, but that is not how He likes to work. Paul said it beautifully: (1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV) Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. God can use us to show the world His grace.
I am often asked the question, why would a loving God allow His people (the Christians) to suffer pain and sickness. Could it be because if we praise God even through our pain and suffering the world will see something special and maybe look to Christ to receive what we have? Anyone can praise God through the good times, but it takes a special relationship with God to praise Him in the bad times. God asks us to bare witness for Him, that is our purpose here on earth. I am sure that God wants us to be happy and enjoy our lives and our families, but don't ever forget that the amount of love you have for your family, is minuscule compared to the love God has for all mankind. If a little suffering here on earth will further His Kingdom and bring more people into a relationship with Jesus Christ why should we expect Him to withhold it from us? He has promised to walk with us and to comfort us, and that in the end we will see how everything worked together for the good of those who love Him.
Think for a moment about how you came to know Christ as your Savior. Now aren't you glad Jesus did not ask for us to be taken out of the world the moment we are saved? Who in eternity to come will be thankful that you were not raptured out of the world the moment you were saved?
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
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