In John 17, Jesus is teaching his disciples a pretty lengthly lesson.  Aware that his crucifixion is near, he really starts to remind his disciples that he is about to be gone.  To prepare them for life without the physical presence of Jesus near them, he shares these words:

“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.”  -John 17:15-16

Some Christians over the years have gotten this idea messed up.  They think that to steer clear from worldliness, they need to detach themselves from the world.  By building isolated communities or removing any possible influential mediums from homes or joining a monastery, many people have attempted to live detached from the world.  

But Christ didn’t call us to detach from the world.  How can we impact a world if we are detached from it?  Jesus asked God to keep the disciples in the world.  He asked for protection from the evil one.  But he made that statement that led to a popular coined phrase today that Christians are to be in the world but not of the world.

Recently, many Christian leaders are advocating for a removal of Christians from tempting environments.  Christ would desire that we live in the world but unscathed by the world.  His prayer is that we could live in the middle of a worldly culture and still persevere by loving Jesus.

Travis Agnew is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is What God Has Joined Together.