I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:14-17 NIV)
in this passage, Jesus is praying specifically for his disciples just before going to be captured. note that he specifically asks God not to take them out of the world, but rather to protect them from the evil one. he makes it clear that the disciples really aren’t of the world, and that in fact the world has hated them, yet he doesn’t want to pull them out of the world.
for Christ-followers, it seems that much of the time we expect God to pull us out of difficult situations or remove us from the world somehow. we hole up in our churches, Christian bookstores, and even Christian themeparks. we boycott anything that goes against our moral code and yet we’re supposed to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. how are we supposed to enlighten the masses if we don’t ever see them and they don’t see us? i understand that we need to avoid things that will pull us down or tempt us beyond our ability to withstand. however, we can’t remove ourselves from the world. it’s just not God’s plan. his plan was for us to stay in the world to spread the good news. so that’s what we must do. don’t pray that God will remove you from the part of the world where he’s placed you, pray that God will sanctify you by the truth of his word and protect you from the evil one.