Friday, June 10, 2011

P4E.212 NOTW? Really?

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


  1. How interesting, Kim! I've not seen that sticker here in the Midwest (maybe we'll see it in three years--we're always a bit behind the coasts!). This is my first look at it.

    I agree that we need to assure people that we DO care and DO want to be used of the Lord to be part of bringing His Kingdom come to this earth in many ways, including both spiritual and physical. The separation and distance that might be felt from that sticker would be very sad--I would hate to suggest that I'm so heavenly minded that I don't act with love and compassion toward everyone on this earth.

  2. Kim, good post for discussion, but I think your connection between the sticker and an elite club are a little stretched for me to buy into. People love to buy, wear and show what they are passionate about. For instance, I love cycling. I wear cycling t-shirts, have cycling stickers on my car, and posters in my house. This is not to show the world how much fitter I am than them, or to pass judgement on out of shape people. Rather, I wear the stuff because it is what I am passionate about. Pick a sport, activity, or cause that someone is excited about and 9 times out of 10 they will dress the part. Is this to say that an overweight person won't get mad that I have a cycling shirt on? Of course not, but if they do, they missed the point.

    John 17:16 is indeed a spiritually focused scripture, and I would argue that people that buy the NOTW stuff want to bring awareness that we can live in the world but have a higher calling. The irony of putting stickers on expensive cars is a good one, but let's let God judge the heart of these people. they are probably at a more youthful stage of the journey.

  3. Ann and Tim. Excellent points, both of you! Thanks for commenting here. Really appreciate it.