Galatians 6:14, 1 John 2:16-17
Throughout the New Testament, the word ‘world’ is used in more than just a literal way. The Greek word used is ‘kosmos’ directly related to the English word cosmos. The literal translation is ‘something ordered’ or ‘ordered system’. We see this idea of the ‘ordered system’ of the world used in the epistles. John instructs us to not love the world or anything in it, and that if anyone loves the world, the Father’s love isn’t in him. This can seem confusing. God sent Jesus to die for the world. However, John clarifies his statement. ‘For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not from the Father but from the world.’ Here the ordered system of ‘the world’ becomes clear. John is speaking about the system of values and desires that the world naturally follows. People naturally following the urges of their flesh, what their eyes see as appealing, and struggling to attain status and ranking, vainly comparing themselves to others by the systems of fame, wealth, and beauty. These values can be seen as they are exploited in advertisements, displayed over social media, lionized in film and television, and celebrated in sports and entertainment. John instructs us to not love these values or this system. Although we are living in the world, we are not to be of it, or from it. Paul furthers this thought. He declares that he is crucified to the world, and that the world is crucified to him. It is a startling passage. The idea of crucifixion comes with it pain and humiliation, resulting in death. With it comes the stigma of the worst criminal. By declaring this, Paul is stating that he is dead to the ordered system of the world, and that the world’s ordered system sees him as shameful and humiliated. Likewise, he views the world’s system as shameful and humiliating, and ultimately, dead.
As Christians, we live in a system that elevates and celebrates things that God views as shameful, criminal, and humiliating. Likewise, we should not be surprised when others view our values, and even our relationship with Jesus as weird or crazy, and even with disdain. A relationship with Jesus does not integrate with worldly culture; it stands in stark contrast. Ultimately, it is this contrast, this light in darkness that leads people to the Savior. As the systems of the world lead people into suffering, pain, and spiritual torment, the light of Jesus Christ shines bright as a beacon of hope, love, and life. Today, as you go out into the world, may you shine as an example of Jesus Christ, confident as a new creation, and may the appetites of the world lose all their appeal in the radiance and love found in the presence of the Holy Spirit.