One of the most well-known Bible verses is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have life everlasting.” If one interprets this verse from end to beginning (instead of beginning to end), one gets the idea that the world is in danger of perishing without the Son of God. The Father sends His Son to save this perishing world.
Songs like “This Is My Father’s World” and “How Great Thou Art” continue this idea that the physical world as we know it belongs to God. He is the Creator, He is the Owner, He is the one that changes the seasons, sends the rain and sun, and the created order is aware of His presence.
However, this knowledge means we must ask a question: does the world love God? Do the systems of this world, such as politics, economies, education, commerce, and business, love God? If God gave His Son Jesus Christ because of his great love for the world, how do these systems express their love and admiration to God?
The exchange that took place between Pilate and Jesus is very demonstrative of how the world thinks of itself. When Jesus Christ did not respond to the questions of Pilate, the Roman procurator threateningly says to him, “Don’t you realize I have the power either to free you or to crucify you?” Pilate was not the only one who used this logic. There were people before him and people after him who used the same tactic of threatening someone with death because they believed themselves to be the highest authority. To this threatening statement, Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:10-11)
I have been in meetings and conversations where it was stated that the person in the White House is the destroyer of this country. For the 8 years of the Obama administration, people on the right did everything they could to prevent his plans because he was destroying the country. This year, people on the left have worked assiduously to derail Trump’s plans and find a way to impeach him. They are determined to shorten his tenure in the White House before American civilization as they prefer it is destroyed. In heated arguments over the evil people in the White House or the Kremlin or in Beijing, I seek to remind my friends that none of those powerful people are sovereign. The only Sovereign over the Universe is Jehovah who tells Daniel that he determines the time of kings and presidents; they come and go as He determines.
My concern in these discussions is that we hope and desire for the world’s systems to love us. Many times, we think that our future is going to depend on the goodwill of those who are in power, for they handle the systems of this world. But we, as the followers of Christ, have to accept the harsh reality that this world is not a friend of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ said these somber words to His disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of this world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)
Apostle Paul tells young Timothy and the next generation of believers that all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. This logic follows the call that Jesus Christ gave to His disciples—the one who wants to be a disciple must take up his cross and follow Christ daily.
The best line that the Lord Jesus Christ gives about the world are these words: “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” So I need to remember that I am in the world but not of the world. In a public meeting when I open my mouth, people usually do not comment on the merit of my statement, but say instead, “You say that because you’re a reverend” or “You are a Christian, that’s why you think that way.” I accept their evaluation but in the public forum, I am looking for common grace, for the things on which we can all agree.
As knowledge of the Bible decreases in this country, I expect more decisions in this country to be contradictory to the Scriptures. When the Bible was a part of this country’s education system, we could talk about a biblical foundation in our thinking. Our thinking has shifted, though, to popular thinking; in the Latin, we could talk about the transition from vox Deus to populi: from the voice of God to the voice of the people.
I am aware that I have two allegiances. I have my allegiance to the country where I am a citizen, and I have an allegiance to the Kingdom of Heaven. I will seek to be the best citizen that I can be, but I also know that Christ invites me to suffer if my country requires something I cannot do because of my citizenship in the Kingdom of God.