This week's Encouragement was submitted by: Caroline McColloch
“In the world but not of the world”, a paraphrase from John 17, is part of Jesus’ prayer for the disciples. The idea seems to convey that we should keep ourselves separate from unbelievers; could this be a temptation to be condescending? But in verse 18, Jesus says “…as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”
So then, how can we face the personal difficulties of daily life while at the same time bringing the Gospel to others? By trusting our Lord’s sovereignty and faithfulness. This is harder than it seems. Most of our upbringing and society teaches otherwise: the ideal of total self-sufficiency, apart from God.
To trust an invisible God instead of our own power and control invites mocking by skeptics. In spite of that, I strive to overcome my weaknesses and discouragements and also be a light to others. The first step is admitting to oneself and to God, our utter helplessness in myriad ways—which is a certain kind of sacrifice (of spiritual pride). The Psalms are replete with this idea.
And yet, and yet….! Trusting the Lord does not mean that we abdicate all personal initiative and responsibility. It is a subtle paradox. We still make choices and plans and act upon those; but we do so while also praying constantly that we’re guided to make the right choices, plans, and actions, bearing in mind how limited and fallible we are as mortal creatures.
With such an attitude, maybe the Holy Spirit feels welcome enough to come and work amazing things through us.