Scripture Reading: Luke 16:1-13
No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’ –Luke 16:13
Pretty straightforward, don’t you think? It is a lot easier said than done. “The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.” J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in The Fellowship of the Ring. We must live in the world but not be of the world. Jesus prayed in John 17:15-17, I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Who or what rules our lives? How many decisions do we make just to get alone? When does that matter? At what point do we slip over that invisible line from being in the world to being of the world? And what is this “world” anyway? The Greek word translated as “world” in John 17 is kosmos meaning something ordered*. Our physical world is “ordered” by gravity, by the alignment of the planets, stars, and the moon and God said that it was good (Genesis 1). There are social, cultural orders to the world that may be good, bad, or even neutral. Strong’s calls them worldly affairs*. Making our way through these orders requires us to discern what is and is not of God. Jesus prays that we be protected from being led into evil. Here the Greek is described as evil, bad, wicked, malicious, slothful**. I think of evil as not being in synch with God, anti-love.
We have to love ourselves enough not to get caught up in evil, and that shows forth in our lives through our love of our neighbor.
Prayer: Order our lives, Lord, make us whole make us one as we partner with you to overcome the world. Amen.
*From Strong’s Concordance see at http://biblehub.com/greek/2889.htm
**From Strong’s Concordance see at http://biblehub.com/greek/4190.htm
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.