Sacred Music Sunday: God So Loved the World

Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona, USA

We hear a lot at church about “The World”. The World is used as a bogeyman – a shorthand for anything bad. We’re told not to be like the world, as if the world is something separate from us. The World is full of evil people doing evil things, devoid of any virtues whatsoever and is to be viewed with suspicion.

This tendency can lead to insularity and cliquishness. I had a mission companion who had never met anyone not a member of the church until she arrived in the mission field. I know parents who won’t let their kids play with non-LDS neighbors.

As I was sitting in church on Sunday, the speaker made a disparaging comment about “The World”. Instantly, the Spirit brought to my mind John 3:16-17. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

God loves the world. Jesus is not here to condemn the world. If the world is something that God loves and that Jesus does not condemn, then why do we as a church hate and condemn the world? It’s not Us vs Them.

God created the world and saw that it was good. There is so much beauty out in the world, both in nature and among our fellow humans. During the pandemic, I’ve had a chance to explore more of the natural world as I’ve had less of a chance to interact with other humans. And when the pandemic subsides, I look forward once again to being with more people. Rather than condemning them as a bogeyman, I will love them, like God does.

Trudy

Trudy is a lawyer living in the southwestern US. She has two cats who allow her to live in their house in exchange for a steady supply of food and treats.

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3 Responses

  1. EmilyCC says:

    The YouTube video is a perfect backdrop to reading your post. I remember at a meditation retreat seeing “the world” in a light similar to what you describe. The world, the way we interact with each other and all of God’s creation is a profound and beautiful gift. Thank you for this reminder.

  2. Em says:

    That music was so beautiful! Thank you! All I could think was “I want to sing that with my friends just as soon as it is safe to sing together again.” And I think you’re right. It makes me think about an article I read about us saying that murderers or other evildoers “aren’t Christian” even if they are in fact members of a Church. It’s damaging because a) it lumps all non-Christians into an evil camp (as the term “the World” does) and b) it means we never have to engage in self-examination to ask what it is about our practice that may be fostering darkness. It is true that Christ was not racist, and so in that sense racism is not Christian — it is not a Christ-like attribute and we should seek to root it out of ourselves. But it is not true to say that racist people aren’t Christian — self-evidently many Christians are racist and have used their theology to justify it. It’s too neat and convenient to say “oh that hateful attitude isn’t even part of my group. If you have it you were never in the group anyway” because then we never have to ask ourselves “wait a minute, what about contemporary Christianity as we practice it is enabling these attitudes to persist and flourish.”

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