Recently, I’ve posted a few quotes from commentaries in which the authors say that the Greek term ekklesia (usually translated “church”) means “assembly” and not “called out ones.” Why is this important?
The idea of the church being “called out” usually leads to the conclusion that the church is called out of the world. But, this is exactly opposite of what Jesus taught. In his prayer in John 17, Jesus prays:
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:15-16 ESV)
Jesus specifically prays that his followers (the church) remain in the world, not that they would be taken out of the world (or “called out of the world”).
Unfortunately, so many have accepted this idea that God has called his people out of the world that they then need to figure out how to get back to the world in order to carry out God’s mission.
What’s the answer? Stay in the world… stay connected to the world… maintain relationships with the world… build relationships with the world… remain in the world, even though our source of strength, power, hope, salvation, etc. is not from the world (“of the world”).
As the church, we are assembled by God in the world. We are not called out of the world; we are called into the world.