My wife and I love to go to the mountains to hike. All of it is amazing and mind-blowing. But one of my favorite things are gushing rivers and waterfalls. There’s an endless supply of water. There’s more than enough for everyone in the world to be satisfied.
Another thing I think about is how every river I come across starts somewhere.
The flowing water is evidence of a source.
“The world” is a planned system
In Watchman Nee’s book Love Not The World, he gives a breakdown of the Greek word used to talk about “the world” (kosmos) used in the Scriptures. In various biblical texts, it can refer to either the physical flying space rock we’re all on, the people on it, or the things in it.
But when you put these all together and look on a deeper, intangible level, Nee explains that “the world” is something more. The classical Greek definition of the word implies “a harmonious order or arrangement,” and secondly, “embellishment or adornment.”
Behind all that is tangible we meet something intangible, we meet a planned system; and in this system there is a harmonious functioning, a perfect order.
What he’s saying is…“the world” is an orderly system of doing things. It constitutes ways of operating that provide order, stability and progress.
The source matters
All of those things are good, aren’t they? People need them so there isn’t chaos and so life can flourish, right?
Yes, but the source of order, stability and progress matters. It’s the difference between life and death, and between oneness and division.
That is not an exaggeration.
Your ways of operating determine what you’re progressing toward.
Throughout the story of Scripture, we’re shown that the world’s system has a source. Just like you see the water flowing in the river and know it came from some source upstream, the world’s system came from somewhere. It’s not just how humans randomly chose to do things after the Fall. There’s a source to it.
Biblical authors reference this source as “the prince of this world” (John 12:31) or “he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).
When the first humans gave up their right to rule the earth with God’s Life as their source, God’s enemy became the ruler of this world and established a system of doing things. He set up his own organization and humans bought into it.
This is what “the world” is. It’s the ways of operating that fallen humans use to relate to one another and organize themselves to provide order, stability and progress.
This system is behind every worldly institution we encounter. It’s the source of order, stability and progress for government, education, business, entertainment, the military, and yes, religion. Eliminate them and life falls into chaos – unless it’s replaced by a different Source.
We’re headed somewhere
Regarding the world’s system, there are three things I’m confident modern-day Christians don’t think about very much. They are where the world’s system is headed, what God thinks of it and what it means for our relationship to it.
When truly understood, this has a life-altering impact. But all too often, Christians are engaged in the system that Jesus came to destroy – with predictable consequences.
As the world “progresses,” it’s headed somewhere. The source behind it has a goal. That goal is to establish a kingdom that is hostile to God (Revelation 13). That is why it’s called the kingdom of the antichrist.
On the other hand, Jesus came and said he brought a new Kingdom and that it “was not of this world.” (John 18:36). He also has a goal. It’s to establish His Kingdom on earth with His Life as the Source.
Just like the enemy is the source of the world’s system, Jesus would be the Source of a new kind of system. He would be the Source of His Kingdom. This Kingdom would have a different way of operating that provides order, stability and progress. But it would happen according to a different way of doing things.
God is opposed to the world’s ways of operating
The two are diametrically opposed to each other. Really think about this – God is 100% opposed to the world’s ways of providing order, stability and progress.
He came to completely judge and defeat the source behind the system, and with that, the system that his mind conceived.
Yes, humans were designed for order, stability and progress. But these emerge differently in God’s Kingdom than they do in the world’s system. We were designed for the Life of Christ to be the Source and sacrificial Love in community to be how they emerge.
Our relationship with the world’s system should not be taken lightly. It seeks to infiltrate our lives and it’s infiltrated churches almost wherever you turn.
The book of James (1:27) encourages Kingdom citizens to keep themselves “unspotted” or “unstained” by the world. The author understood how serious this is.
How do we identify the world’s systems’ ways of doing things and how should we relate to them?
We’ll talk more about that in future posts.
This is the first post in the Enemy Blueprints series. Go here to read the rest of the posts in the series.