"Of the World"

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Roads, Dec 7, 2014.

  1. #1 Roads, Dec 7, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014
    One of the phrases we often seem to use in our speech with each other is "of the world." It's a phrase from the Bible (John 17:13-19, for example). I will offer that the phrase has two main possible meanings in the way we use it.

    The first meaning is "inherently sinful." Maliciousness, for example, is "of the world," because it contradicts the nature and example of Christ. However, the phrase can, technically, mean something that didn't come directly from God, but isn't necessarily inherently sinful either, like a potato peeler, or, perhaps less inarguably, bagpipes.

    What I'm suggesting is that sometimes, we can tend to take rhetorical advantage of these two possible meanings of the phrase to make something seem sinful, when it actually isn't.

    For example, consider the following (fictional) position:

    "In Genesis 3:21, we plainly read that wearing animal skins is of God. But then what did the world do? It corrupted God's good gift with all manner of shapes and fabrics, creating a clothing of the world. How will the world ever see the church as anything different if we continue to look just like the world looks, and dress just like the word dresses, and sin just like the world sins?"

    Kind of silly, yeah. Technically, my cotton pants are "of the world," but only in the sense that God didn't personally hand them to me, not in the same sense that maliciousness is "of the world."

    I'm sure you've heard Christians accuse all sorts of things of being "of the world." One group I once ran with referred to dancing in all forms as "of the world," so any kind of dancing was strictly forbidden among them. You might have even felt an eye or two on you if your hand went up a little during a worship service. One group I knew called drums "of the world," but other instruments were okay, so no drums in church. Another group labelled all musical instruments as "of the world," so they sang their hymns a capella only, to use the "one instrument that God did give us," their voices. One guy I knew firmly believed than any music written in 2/4 or 4/4 timing was "of the world." In some cases, looking in from the outside, it's very obvious when the term "of the world" is being used as manipulation, making use of rhetoric to make something perfectly harmless seem like sin, and to create rules (with consequences) about those things for entire groups.

    So just so we're clear, in case there's any misunderstanding, I'm not advocating "license to sin" here, I'm just saying, to burden people with rules that God doesn't hold us to is not okay. Of course, some things are absolutely "of the world" in that they are inherently sinful, and we should be willing to name those things for what they are. But what we should also be doing is examining the way we're using language to make sure our positions are not merely the product of rhetorical manipulation, but that they come from the things we know to be true.

    I am curious if other people here have noticed other phrases that are common in "Christian" speech that are often used out of context from how they appear in scripture, and have a similar manipulative effect?
    Major, Fadingman and KingJ says Amen and like this.
  2. The reality is that we are in the world and despite whatever else we must deal with worldly things. I am reminded in scripture, when the woman washed Christ's feet and dried them with her hair - observers were shocked - why had Christ allowed her to do such a carnal/worldly thing. I think what is being said is that while we are in the world - to do things out of love and gratitude for what we are given. We won't always be here, either.
    Major and Roads say Amen and like this.
  3. Yeah. The example you used from scripture is a good illustration of that reality, because even though you could say that the woman's action was "worldly," or "of the world," (and Simon certainly seemed to read the situation that way), Jesus understood her motivations behind it. In this example, her attitude was conformed to the attitude of of Christ, in His submission and His humility, and it was Simon's attitude that was "of the world." Great thoughts, thanks Silk.
    Silk likes this.
  4. That's a good observation. Most of us tend to do that at times when we don't realize it.

    'World' does have two (or more) meanings. I think of these two verses...

    John 3:16 "For God so loved the world..."
    1 John 2:15 "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

    Both use the same Greek words for 'love' (agape) and 'world' (cosmos). But obviously world means something different in each verse.
    Roads and Major say Amen and like this.
  5. The world is in and has been in opposition to God since the fall of man when lucifer led man towards independence from God. The flesh (self) the very thing that he was cast from heaven for. We are told we have to live in the world but not be part of it. When I think of the expression of the world I think it is connecting to the prince of the world (satan) we can only serve one ........ the world or God.


    The fruits of this world
    Fade away
    They cause
    Hurt and pain
    Rot and Decay
    The end is misery
    I rejoice in the Joy of the Lord
    Your joy is everlasting
    All I need I find in You
    Thank you for loving me
    Thank you for letting me see

    Roads and Major say Amen and like this.

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