Friday, June 10, 2011
I don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in Southern California a "Christian" car sticker has been around for a few years now. As you see, above, it simply states "NOTW," an abbreviation for Not of this World. The "O" looks like a halo and the "T" looks like a cross. I don't want to make any assumptions about the motivation of the company that created this logo. What I want to talk about is my perception of those who apply this sticker and concept to their cars and lives and how it might be perceived by others.
I feel qualified to comment , because I have held the NOTW beliefs I'm describing myself. I'm commenting solely for the purpose of discussion. Not to judge. I would really like to hear some discussion about my take on the NOTW phenomenon.
The NOTW sticker implies some sort of exclusive club. The subtext is, "I'm in. You're not." While this might be true for the Believer on some level, is it the message that we want to convey? Or, is it truly only an identifier to others who are NOTW, like the Christian fish? Is the fact that we're NOTW something to be proclaimed, touted, some would say "lorded over," those who ARE of this world? Because, you see, that's what it feels like to me. Is that the "good news?" That we are in and they are out?
When Jesus said that His kingdom was "not of this world," He meant simply that His kingdom was spiritual in nature, not physical. When He spoke of us as being "not of this world," He meant that we are God's and, because God is spirit, that we are most importantly spiritual beings. Our emphasis should not be on the material, but on the spiritual. So, seeing these NOTW stickers on bright, shiny, new, big, expensive, status vehicles is ironic.
What might be construed by others, when we proclaim that we're "not of this world," is that since we are not of this world we don't care much about it. This, ironically, opens the door for others to criticize us for not caring about people or the world itself. There is a conservative element of the church that is so adamant and militant in its criticism of our culture that, by association, we are all perceived as not caring for: the poor, the homeless, the disadvantaged, the minority, the pregnant woman, the homosexual, or the environment. I'm not saying it's true. I'm saying the perception is there and the NOTW sticker perpetuates the perception. And, to many, perception is reality.
So the question is, what is our response when we are confronted with this criticism? Do we adamantly deny it? Do we run from it? Do we ignore it? Do we counter-criticise? Or do we consider the seed of truth that might be there and keep ourselves above reproach?
"Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation." I Peter 2:12