When we ask the question whether the world is our home, we have to realize that the word “world” can be used in many different ways. In John’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the fact that Satan is the ruler of this world. Now of course that doesn’t mean that Satan is the ruler of all that there is on earth because Jesus is the one who is Lord, but his effects are seen everywhere in the world.
So in answer to Pilot’s question about whether Jesus is the king of the Jews, Jesus answered by saying, “My kingdom is not from this world.” And Jesus, in that answer, is discussing the origin of his kingdom, not its domain. Satan’s power is seen in the world everywhere but Jesus’s power is also seen physically in the world. Jesus performs miracles, Jesus raises the dead, he heals the sick, he feeds five thousand people. Jesus has authority in this world and so Jesus does not mean that his ministry, therefore, is only spiritual because he is very concerned for worldly things.
There really are two kingdoms that are competing within the Gospels. There is the kingdom that is ruled by Satan and there is the kingdom that is ruled by Jesus. And we see again and again that the kingdom that is ruled by Jesus is the kingdom of ultimate power.
In a world affected by sin, we are to live out the values of the kingdom of God, not the values of the ruler of the world.
And so if we say this world is not our home, at one level that is correct because we do not want to see the influence of the ruler of the world influencing our lives. Now of course, that’s not a secular-sacred divide. We can be ambassadors of the kingdom of God at work on Monday and show the values of Jesus. And the values of the kingdom of this world—of the lure of this world and of Satan—can be seen in church on Sunday, sadly only too evidently.
So in a world affected by sin, we are to live out the values of the kingdom of God, not the values of the ruler of the world. So if we say this world is not our home, then we are seeing that within its context, the Son of Man came and fulfilled all that Adam should have fulfilled in the world. As we engage in his work, we are engaged in the work of his kingdom—even in this world.
Ian K. Smith is the author of Not Home Yet: How the Renewal of the Earth Fits into God’s Plan for the World.
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