God calls us to impact the world, but not to imitate the world. I have been trying to think of a clever catchphrase to describe the difference between worldly people and those who change the world in a positive way.
Kosmos, the Greek word translated world in the New Testament, is a multi-faceted term. From kosmos we derive words like cosmology and cosmetics. In Romans 1:20, kosmos refers to God’s creation. The word can mean humanity in general, as in John 3:16 (“for God so loved the world”). It can mean adornment like hairstyles, jewelry, and clothing (1 Peter 3:3). It describes the temporary setting where we experience pleasure and suffering (1 Corinthians 7:31 says, “the world in its present form is passing away”). And sometimes kosmos refers to the sin-laden spiritual environment that lures us away from God. That’s why 1 John 2:15-17 warns us not to love the world or be deceived by worldly lust, power, and sinful desires.
I wish I could come up with a catchy name or phrase that expresses what it means to impact the kosmos without being captured by it. I thought of “Cosmopolitan Christian,” but that sounds like a magazine cover. “Cosmetic Christian”? No way. “Cosmo Christian”? I don’t think so.
I considered other possibilities. Using the initials for Global Minded, I wondered if “GM Christian” might work, but that sounds like a car dealership.
Eyes on the World
A flashy name for the idea still eludes me, but here are some characteristics of the kind of people who impact the world in a positive way.
- They value the mission of Christ more than their own comfort.
- Jesus’ parables about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son stir their hearts.
- They proactively build relationships with individuals who look, act, speak, and think differently than they do.
- They pay attention to international events and ponder what the Lord is doing, not merely what the news networks choose to highlight.
- They generously support missionaries, church planters, and relief workers.
- They encourage their local congregations to be outward-focused—to love their neighbors, serve their communities, and engage in global missions.
- They intercede for believers who are being persecuted for their faith.
- They elevate God’s missional objectives above their own opinions and preferences, refusing to waste time on petty issues.
- They honor their own nation but also remember the Lord’s mandate to preach the gospel “to all nations” (Luke 24:47).
- They not only pray, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us” (Psalm 67:1). They also include the next verse: “So that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations” (v. 2).
- Using Acts 1:8 as a model, they aspire to witness for Christ not only in “Jerusalem and Judea,” but also in “Samaria” and “the ends of the earth.”
- They rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, recognizing that human wisdom and strength alone will never fix what’s wrong with the world.
Come to think of it, I don’t need to come up with a fancy name for a person who impacts the world. Disciples enthusiastic about God’s worldwide mission shouldn’t be unusual; they should be normal. And we already have a term for that: Christians.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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