What, then, did He mean?
(Alexander Smellie, "On the Secret Place" 1907)
"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." John 17:16
Christ did not mean that I am to withdraw and seclude myself from society. He did not do so Himself. He came and dwelt with sinners — and He bids me to walk in His footsteps. I am to live in the world, as a holy child of God.
Neither did He mean that I am to be censorious towards those around me. There was no censoriousness in Him. Wherever He went, His presence diffused sunshine and warmth and joy.
He does not wish me to moralize on the defects and errors of others. He has no desire that I should be fault-finding, critical, or harsh. I may be unsparing in judging myself; but in my thoughts and words regarding others, there must be all considerateness, all forbearance, all patience and hope.
What, then, did He mean?
That I am not to consider myself to be at home in this world.
That every day I must show myself to be a citizen of Heaven.
That there must be an easily-perceived difference between me and those who do not travel beyond the present realm of things.
That, however friendly I am with others, I must hold aloof from their sinful habits and recreations. I must make them understand . . .
that my work is to glorify God,
that my model is Christ, and
that my citizenship is in Heaven!
Again, let me consider my Master. None drew closer to men and women than He — yet there was always a holy distinction felt and seen. Enemies and friends recognized it. And I am to have such an intense personal devotion to Him, that I shall be found only where I firmly believe He would be — and that I shall practice and follow only what He approves. It is to be my one fear, that I would hurt His kind heart.
Here is my rule: Not of the world — even as He was not of the world.
The rule is to be operative everywhere.
It will cast out of my business whatever is evil; and I shall count it impossible to do anything false or unjust in the workshop and the counting-house.
It will hallow my amusements. I shall suspect any amusement into which the thought of Christ intrudes like a shadow — and welcome the happiness to which He goes with me.
It will direct me in whatever I read — everything must be consistent with Christ's holiness.
It will direct me wherever I go — I shall hear His voice among the trees of the garden, and not be afraid.
It is the motto for the whole of my history — I am to do whatever Jesus would do — if He were here in my place.