They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. John 17:16
Fifteen years ago, if you’d asked me what I wanted my life to look like today, I wouldn’t have said that I wanted to be known for my addiction and recovery. Writing a blog designed to spread the message of faith and recovery was simply not on my radar back then. That’s just not the kind of reputation I desired. I would have rather simply been known as a respectable husband, father, and physician.
Even after the disaster of my addiction and subsequent recovery, I didn’t really want to “go public” with my message. When I realized what it was going to take (for me) to truly live a life of faith and recovery, I voiced my objections to God. I don’t want to be a religious nut or a Christian weirdo. I just want a nice, quiet, respectable life. The life I’d pursued though, led me to being known for my drug addiction. Those were my choices: follow God and (hopefully) be known for that, or, follow me, and be known for my addiction. I pretty quickly accepted that I’d rather be seen as a Christian Recovery Weirdo than for being an addict.
In today’s passage, Jesus addressed our worldly status as his followers. In the passage, he said that as we follow him, the world will turn on us. The the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world (John 17:14). Jesus didn’t command us to hate those around us, but rather, gave us permission not to worry about what others think of us. Our job, as followers of Christ, isn’t to run a public relations campaign for God. Our job is to love and follow him to freedom.
If we truly want to know eternal life, faith, and recovery, we must abandon our concern with public opinion. As long as we’re obsessed with status and popularity, we’ll continue to struggle finding faith and freedom as we’ll remain enslaved to what others think of us. To this, Jesus says, Let it go. Don’t worry what others think. Follow me. In me alone will you find forgiveness, love, acceptance, and peace. Sure, others might think you’re a nut, but who cares? In me, you will have a joy that the world cannot take away.