“They [the people God gave Jesus] are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

John 17:16

God’s encouragement…

This is the title my pastor gave one of his most memorable sermon messages. I heard it in the early days after I returned to church following a long hiatus. My soul hungered for the scriptures as I sought to make up for lost time. I knew that when Jesus taught his disciples, it was something important about His Father’s kingdom. This passage was difficult for me to wrap my mind around and the sermon brought clarity by using a familiar setting.

Jesus sets the stage for the meaning of this passage in John 14:23. In it He explains that if anyone loves Him, that person will keep His word and God the Father will love them. He goes on to say that both He and the Father will come and make their home with that person. Home evokes beautiful imagery of warmth, welcoming and belonging. Home is a place filled with people who know and love us. It overflows with happiness and we find comfort and safety within its walls. Our home with God is represented by the house. Followers of Jesus are “not of the world” because our home is with God.

When we receive Jesus as our Savior, the “front porch of heaven” is our earthly dwelling place. We are simultaneously living in the present world and our home with God. He gives us refuge from sun and rain, even when we are outside, waiting for the call to come in. The front porch allows us to live in close proximity to God right now. The closer we stay to Him, the more He is able to strengthen us to keep His word. When we follow the instruction of Jesus to keep His word, we demonstrate we belong to Him. And we, like Jesus, are not of the world.

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Image: original color pencil drawing “Front Porch of Heaven” by Robin Lybeck

To God alone be all the glory!