Beliefnet
Red Letters

Following up on yesterday’s post, I want to dive into the topic of “the world”–a phrase that Jesus uses often in opposition to “the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus talks about Kingdom values and ethics–which typically center on repentance, obedience, love, humility, and service. And he contrasts those with worldly values and ethics–lust, greed, selfishness, pride, etc.

This world and God’s Kingdom are opposing forces in the universe. To borrow from C.S. Lewis: “There is no neutral ground in
the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God
and counter-claimed by Satan”

Clearly a cosmic and unseen battle rages around us, and that battle is fought between The Kingdom of God and “The World.” Now, to get more specific…

Yesterday, Joe left this comment: One minor point regarding “Most of us are not viewed well by the
world…”: If the world hates us because we’re more corrupt and selfish
than our non-Christian counterparts, then shame on us. But a radical
Christ follower will be hated, mocked, and ridiculed too — Jesus said
this would be the case.

And my response: We are not hated because we follow Christ, because we display His
radical love, or because we follow His teachings with the actions of our
lives. We are hated because we say we follow Christ, but do nothing to
show that in our outward behaviors. Which, by the way, means that at our
core we don’t believe it either. Actions are an expression of beliefs
and values that are internally held. Actions are not separate from
belief. They are the barometer of what we believe.

Jesus does say the world will hate Him, and hate us. But I want to dig into the heart of what that really means.

On the one hand, hundreds of thousands of Christians are martyred every year because of their faith. They are tortured and beaten and killed for the sake of Christ. That is pretty hateful stuff. And clearly this is “the world” hating the message of Christ–the Gospel. Those who perpetrate these hideous crimes draw that hate from depths of hell. Martyrdom and persecution is, I believe, what Jesus meant when he said to Peter that the church would prevail against the attacks from “the gates of hell.”

On the other hand, we in the U.S. are hated not for our belief in Jesus–but because we fail to prove the belief with our actions. By my definition, this reaction from nonbelievers does not qualify as persecution. It is the response most humans have to someone whose words and actions are drastically misaligned. My post yesterday referred to this reaction from “the world,” which I meant in that context to specifically describe “nonbelievers.”

I am interested in your perception of what “the world” means? Do you feel “the world” is represents a system of beliefs and values that directly oppose God? Or, is “the world” just all non-believers? Or maybe something entirely different?