The World | Christianese Defined
You will often hear Christians talking about things being “worldly” or “of the world” or stating that they are “in the world, but not of it”. What are they talking about? Where do they get this language from? What do Christians mean when they refer to “the world”?In the Bible "the world" stands in stark contrast to the kingdom of God. Basically anything I’m looking to to give me life, meaning, purpose, joy or satisfaction that isn’t about the glory of God, the expansion of His Kingdom in the hearts of mankind, or, simply, God Himself can be classified as “the world”. God rules the Kingdom of God, Satan is "the god of this world". What transcendent purpose/kingdom am I a part of? What is ruling my heart? What is my heart captured by? What am I submitting to? Is it God or anything else (including myself)? If our answers to those questions are anything short of God and His Kingdom then we have a problem because our hearts weren’t made to be satisfied in the world.(John 3:16-19, Titus 2, 2 Peter 2:17-22, Galatians 4:1-9, John 16:33)There is the idea of influence involved in a Christian’s interpretation of “the world” as well. The world has the power to seductively influence us to seek satisfaction in things that will ultimately fail us. We can get unwittingly sucked into valuing what the society of our world preaches rather than what the Bible teaches. The world’s influence is pervasive and powerful yet deceptive and damaging to our souls.(I John 2-5, James 4:4, Romans 12:1-2, John 15:18-19, Matthew 18:7, James 1:27, 2 Timothy 4:3)The world then calls us to gain what it can offer at the expense of our souls. As we are influenced to value and seek things that fall short of the Kingdom of God, we are setting ourselves up for the disappointment, disillusionment and destruction of our souls. We might gain the world (its praise, approval, success, riches, etc.), but we lose our soul. Jesus even said in Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36 and Luke 9:25 “For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul.” In his book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller refers to an article written by playwright and author Cynthia Heimel about struggling actors who rise to the top. She writes:“I pity (celebrities). No, I do. (Celebrities) were once perfectly pleasant human beings ... but now ...their wrath is awful .... More than any of us, they wanted fame. They worked, they pushed....The morning after ... each of them became famous, they wanted to take an overdose... because that giant thing they were striving for, that fame thing that was going to make everything okay, that was going to make their lives bearable, that was going to provide them with personal fulfillment and ... happiness, had happened. And nothing changed. They were still them. The disillusionment turned them howling and insufferable.When tempted by Satan to forego the way of the cross and to begin His rule over the kingdoms of the world without suffering for our sin, Jesus responded by quoting Scripture. “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” (Matthew 4:8-10, Luke 4:5-8) Quoting Scripture and reminding yourself of truth when enticed to go after what the world has to offer seems like an excellent strategy to me!So what are we to do? We live in the world. We are constantly surrounded by the world’s influence. The world is constantly offering us flawed ways to find satisfaction in life. How is a Christian supposed to live in the world without either becoming consumed by it or becoming a crazy, isolated and unable-to-function-in-reality type person? In response to such questions, Christians have often used the phrase “in the world, but not of it” which they garner from Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” found in John 17, specifically verses 6-19. The problem with that phrase is that it kind of makes one think that they really should live more like the unable-to-function-in-reality-and-only-ever-be-around-other-Christians-and-never-watch-movies-or-play-cards-or-etc.-for-fear-of-sinning-or-being-influenced-by-the-world type person. That misses the point. “In the world not of it” really looks more like, “Not of the world, but sent to it”.As Christians we should take our cues from Christ right? Jesus spent a lot of time around “worldly” people during His earthly ministry. And guess what. We’re all worldly people. We’re all drawn to the world. Our hearts are captured by good things that we make ultimate things. We scratch and claw to build our own finite kingdoms when God is calling us to be a part of His glorious, everlasting and unfading Kingdom. We’re not perfect. We’re broken. We need a Savior who is not of this world! That’s why Jesus came on His rescue mission. To save us from the power of the world, crush the power of sin and death, and give us new life and an inheritance in His Kingdom all for the glory of God the Father. He then left earth and commissioned us who believe to go to the world as ambassadors for His Kingdom. Christians who live in the world are sent to the world with the hope of the gospel!They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them[b] in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.John 17:16-18And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.Mark 16:15You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.Matthew 5:14All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling [b] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Corinthians 5:18-21When tempted by “the world”, let’s remember our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is not of this world but entered it to live the perfect, non-worldly life we could never live, took the punishment for our worldliness, set us free from the guilt of our sin (Galatians 5:1), and calls us to be a part of His Kingdom. Jesus said:I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world! John 16:33What will you do with Jesus’ free offer of salvation?