For many Christians, it has become popular to dismiss “the world” as some- thing evil or degenerate. Religious folks seem to take pleasure in decrying the worldly ways of the wicked, and bolstering some kind of Christian seclusion which, sadly, often deteriorates into a mixture of Evangelical Ghettos and Neo-Orthodox tribes powered by Christian music, living only for their own spiritual satisfaction.
But I understand where the hatred for the world comes from; after all, scripture seems to have plenty to say about the evils of this world [for example, “friendship with the world is enmity with God”, James 4.4.] Yet, the Bible also is chock full of references pleading with us to love the world.
There Really Are Two Worlds
I have come to understand that there are really two ways to conceptualize the world. We can understand the world as God created it to be, a reflection of His authority and expression bearing His divine imprint and His seal of perfection; or, we can understand the world as it’s been corrupted by the dominant forces of power and control.
In other words, we can look at the world either as God intended it to be; or, we can look at the way we ruined it.
So, to my way of thinking, positive affirmations of the world in the bible pertain to the way God created it and loves it (see John 6.33), while negative defamations against the world pertain to the way that God’s will has been displaced within the creation by the selfish will of men and/or the destructive mind of evil.
I think it’s clear that we must be intimately concerned with redeeming this world. I believe that Jesus Christ came to the world with a sacrificial love for the good that remains in the world and in its inhabitants, and that He has charged us with the awesome responsibility to redeem the Earth, not to abandon it.
This is born out of my understanding of the scriptures – for example, John 1.29 where Jesus claims to “take away the sin of the world;” or John 3.16 where Jesus was sent to die out of God’s immense love for the world, bringing life to those who believe. Throughout the Bible we see that the orientation of God towards the world is one of love – He gives life to the world [John 6.33], coming not to condemn the world but to save it [John 3.17, John 12.47].
So, we must be involved in the redemption of all creation, “highest Heaven and everything on planet Earth” [as Eugene Peterson has paraphrased in Ephesians 1.10]. Or, as Michael Mayne said in This Sunrise of Wonder, “God blesses everything He creates, making all creation the sign of His presence. If spirituality means the way we grow into the kind of being we are intended to be, then the starting point is not a striving after another world, but a deepening awareness of the true nature of this world and our place in it.”
Excerpt from Kosmos.