Why Fight for Truth in a World that Hates IT & US

When Jesus says to us, Because I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15:19), he is NOT saying that Christians are universally hated by NON-CHRISTIANS. We are hated by the City of Man—by the ruler of this world, by the system of rebellion, humanism, and sin that both pulls on our heart strings to lure us and seeks to attack and destroy us. The average non-Christian is lost, hurting, and open to the love of Christ, like the woman at the well of Samaria.

A.  Reason #1. God’s very first command in the whole Bible to humans is Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Gen 1:28). As image bearers of God, Adam and Eve are created to be kings and queens over earth. They are to discover and unleash the potential God has put into planet earth, causing the earth and those humans God placed on the earth to flourish. They were to build culture; they were to turn the untamed garden into a beautiful, garden city. Out of love for God—allegiance to him—they were to rule over this process as his vice-regents, shaping that culture to please Him, according to the moral law of God written on their heart. God’s moral will on earth was to be done as it is in heavenThis command to the first humans was never abrogated by Jesus. Jesus did not undo this command but built upon it.

B. Reason #2. The second reason cultural withdrawal is wrong is that it is based on a misunderstanding of the term, world, in Scripture. Here is the background behind this term. When Adam and Eve joined Satan’s alliance to rebel against the High King, they unleashed the power of Satan, sin, and death upon kingdom earth. Adam and Eve’s kingdom has now become a realm where two loves, two allegiances compete. The great theologian, Augustine, describes human existence since the fall as two kingdoms existing side by side, which he likens to cities. He says, Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self (City of God.) The biblical term for this “earthly city” is the world.

This is very confusing because world can mean, “the earth with its inhabitants and all things upon it.” Scripture often uses “world” with this meaning, e.g. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the  world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Ps 90:2). But Webster also tells us world can mean, “the concerns of the earth and its affairs as distinguished from heaven and the life to come.” So, “the world” can refer to a system of thinking, a way of life that contrasts to the way of life in heaven. In other words, the term, world is used in Scripture BOTH for the sphere of human life on earth where the clash of two kingdoms takes place and as a synonym for one of the two kingdoms, i.e. the kingdom of darkness, i.e. the City of Man, the attitudes and perspective of sin—to a way of life shaped by the love of self to the contempt of God in contrast to a way of life shaped by the love of God, to the contempt of self.

This second definition of world as contrasting with the righteous life of heaven is the meaning of the world in John 15:19: Because I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. In this verse, the term, world, DOES NOT REFER TO OUR CURRENT CULTURE but to the kingdom of darkness at work in the culture. Again, the world does NOT refer to the non-Christians around me or the Internet, but the system of thinking—the worldview, the values of the lost world, the thinking and behavior that contrast to the righteous way of life in heaven. Here are some examples of this frequent use of the term, world, in the NT.

  • And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Eph 2:1).
  • He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23).
  • Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out (John 12:31).
  • But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:4)
  • You once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2).
  • Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27).
  • We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19).

Withdrawal from the culture is wrong because it is based on a misunderstanding of the term, world. We are to turn our backs on the enticement and values of the fallen world but not on the sphere of human existence where this battle is taking place (culture) or on those being harmed by Satan and sin’s attacks.

C. Reason #3.  Jesus reaffirmed God’s command to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1 to shape culture, subduing the earth in a way that pleases the High King when he calls his followers to make disciples of the nations. The Great Commission begins with the words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”   After sin entered the world, humans only have the power to fulfill this creation calling in the power of Christ, the Second Adam who at the cross redeemed Adam’s kingdom from its slavery to Satan Sin, and Death. In fact, Jesus taught his followers that recovering and pursuing this calling is their highest priority. He commanded “seek first the kingdom of God and his rightness-for-creation” (which is what the term righteousness means). We are called to seek the rule of Christ’s moral law in every sphere of life—starting with our own hearts, and accomplishing Christ’s agenda in our heart attitudes, marriages, families, workplaces, neighborhoods, and nation.

We do this, however, not by military conquest, i.e. forcing that law on citizens (which is called theonomy). Christianity’s view of kingdom expansion is the opposite of radical Islam’s pursuit of the Caliphate, which practices jihad in slaughtering religious opponents and forcing Sharia Law on those who survive. Rather, Jesus repudiated the use of force, saying My kingdom is not of this world, and teaching that his kingdom grows not through political coercion but through Christians’ influence in the culture as salt, light, and leaven which spreads over the earth. Tuesday’s election is an opportunity for us to demonstrate that influence through voting, although our calling to shape culture in a fallen world goes way beyond voting.

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