The world God created is very good. He says so Himself in Genesis 1: 31. This is one of the key points of the DNA message, as are the following:
- Human beings, made in his image, are tasked with developing the earth, making it bountiful, and creating culture (Genesis 1:26-28).
- God is Lord of all Creation and of all life including every sector of society (Colossians 1:16-18).
- The church is tasked with discipling nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
- Christ died to reconcile all things to himself (Col 1:20).
- At the end of time, when Christ returns in his glory, the kings of the earth with bring the glorious things of their culture into the City of God (Revelation 21:23-26).
Here’s another one, from the most famous verse in the Bible:
- God loves His creation. John 3:16, God so loved the world (the kosmos) that he gave his one and only son to die on the cross.
I have taught these concepts for years. At the same time, I have puzzled over some passages that seem to cut across some of the above themes.
- Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
- Colossians 3:2, Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
- 1 John 2:5, Do not love the world or the things in the world.
So which is it? Are we to love God and enjoy what he has made? Or, rather are we to despise the things of the world and long only for heaven? Is there really a sacred – secular divide after all?
Recently my dear friend Dr. Christian Overman of Worldview Matters has challenged my understanding of kosmos and pushed me to a more thoughtful perspective. No, there is no sacred – secular dualism. But there is a fallen world. We do have fallen natures. There is a world system in opposition to God. It seeks to enslave and destroy individuals and nations.
This speaks to all three of the above texts.
First, note that the prohibition in Matthew 6:24 is not against money, but against loving money. The Bible says more about business and economic principles than about spiritual salvation. We are created as economic beings, but we are forbidden to love money. We are not to have money, rather than God, as the reference point of life. Within the framework of God’s sovereign rule, we are to create wealth, enjoy wealth, and use it for His glory. But we are not to love it. We are not to make it our god.
Second, Colossians 3:2—Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things—comes in the context of verses 5-9 which speak of fallen natures.
… sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry … anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language … Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.
The writer goes on to describe the new man in verses 12-14.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
This is done by keeping our minds focused on the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of darkness, i.e. the world’s system.
The third passage above is 1 John 2:15-17. We’ll get to that text next time.
– Darrow Miller