I bet everyone who lives in the US knows what NOTW stands for. This symbol is everywhere.
Do we really know what it means? For the clothes maker it is a symbol of their merchandise. For the religious it is a declaration that “our good behavior sets us apart from the world’s bad behavior.” For the believer who is in an intimate relationship with Jesus they know they are not of this world. Their thinking is different. Their understanding is different. Their minds are being transformed. God’s wisdom is being poured out into their lives. They are beginning to see like Jesus sees. Their priorities are becoming His priorities. They are becoming like Jesus. Because of their relationship with Jesus they are not of this world. Jesus said this:
John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (ESV)
Jesus said we are not of this world if He has called us. (Let me be clear…He has called us all. Some are willing and some are not.)
Jn 15:19 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (ESVST)
I want to challenge your thinking. When Jesus entered into this world He entered into a limited perspective that came from bad-fruit poison. When we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil we were radically altered in our thinking. We went from a place without laws and performance and stepped into carrots and sticks. This fallen world is trapped by laws and lists and balance and judgement. Because everything passes through this “good and evil” HEPA device it limits our understanding. A byproduct of this fallen nature is the fruit of sin, the bondage of law, despair, hopelessness, condemnation, shame, guilt, fear, disappointment…Jesus came to set us free from that very bondage. Look at what He says:
Jn 12:47 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. (ESVST)
I know this is hard to swallow. That is why we have the Holy Spirit, God Himself living in us. This is why we have this hope…Christ in us the hope of glory (manifest goodness). In the Holy Spirit we have access to God’s wisdom. We have the ability to see like He sees. We are set free from our “worldly” understanding.
1Co 2:12-13 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (ESVST)
Here is an interesting verse that a lawyer may use to counter this idea. They would say that Jesus is proof we need more judgement and more law based on a verse like this. Remember without the Holy Spirit we still have fallen, worldly thinking.
John 5:27 And He has given Him authority and granted Him power to execute (exercise, practice) judgment because He is a Son of man [very man]. (AMP)
So this is where I really want to challenge your thinking. We need judges, right? The world needs judgement, right? We have rules. We have laws. “We must have these things because chaos will run rampant if we don’t.” That is our fallen, natural thinking. That is our condition without Jesus. It is a fact of a fallen condition that rules bring order but not a truth of God that we must have rules in a relationship with Him. Jesus is truth. Jesus was outside of our limited reality as God but stepped into our twisted reality as a man. I believe this verse could read this way:
John 5:27 When Jesus became a man he needed the ability and authority to judge since mankind is trapped in a judgement paradigm. He came from outside the rules and stepped into a rule based world so God gave Him what He needed to be successful. (LLT)
Here is another interesting verse along the same lines:
Jn 9:39 Jesus said, “ For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (ESVST)
The word “for” in almost every other instance is translated as “into.” In English sometimes words are changed for understanding but then lose their intended meaning. The literal translation is:
Jesus said “into judgment, into the world this came (from the previous discussion “this” is the understanding that Jesus is what God looks like) that those not seeing might see and those seeing, blind might become. (LLT)
Can you see that when translated literally the “world” is the place of judgement? Jesus comes into the world to reveal God’s nature. Jesus brings Grace into the world of judgement. I like that. Who are the ones with sight? They are self-proclaimed experts at rule following and judgement. Who are the blind? They have no understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done. In Him we don’t need laws. In Him we live in His Grace. Grace gives us freedom from all the stuff, the lists, the judgments…all the stuff that produces sin.
Rom 7:5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (ESV)
God gives us the power of His love to know we have resources and lack nothing in Him. In His love we are empowered for success as inhabitants of this planet. We are “not of this world (NOTW)” because we are His kids. We are outside of the rules and judgement but can live within them because we choose. We aren’t in bondage to the law but can honor others by following the law. We have the provision of Heaven in our relationship with Jesus so we don’t need to take from others. We love others because He loves us. We see like He sees so we can do what He would do. The list goes on and on. It isn’t about being different to stand out or make a statement. It is about being different because we are different. It isn’t about an expression of perfect moral behavior but it is about the love of Jesus. I’m NOTW because I can’t help it! He saved me from the world.