Created to be Counter Cultural ~ Tonya Brown

My mother taught me there is a place for everything and everything belongs in its place—something she picked up along the way from Benjamin Franklin. My mother is an organizer, and I’ve learned to follow her example since nothing annoys me more than wasting time looking for something that wasn’t returned to where it belongs.

But then I read Jesus’ prayer in John’s gospel:

Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. John 17:15-16 CEV

If my loving mother taught me to put things in their place, how could a loving God put us where we don’t belong? It doesn’t make sense.

I decided to go back to Genesis and look at His original plan.

The Lord made a garden in a place called Eden, which was in the east, and he put the man there. Genesis 2:8 CEV

Four words intrigued me, so I went to and looked up the original Hebrew.

  1. garden (H1588) protected enclosure
  2. Eden (H5731) equals pleasure
  3. east (H6924) that which is before
  4. put (H7760) decided to appoint

If you read the verse with these inserted, it would read something like this:

The lord made a protected enclosure in a place called pleasure, which was before, and he decided to appoint the man there.

Now let’s look at Jesus’ prayer in that context. What exactly is the world? The original Greek (G2889) is kosmos which means the whole circle of earthly goods. It gets interesting when you look at its root word. The noun kosmos is thought to originate from the base verb komizo. The definition is fascinating: to recover what was previously yours. An action verb.

Math isn’t my thing, but if I add these together, the picture I start to see is God never intended for us to be in this circle of earthly goods. He placed mankind in an enclosed place of pleasure. When we left that enclosure, He activated a plan to recover us from that world. We don’t belong to this world, we belong to Him.

Jesus didn’t belong here either, but He came to our current dwelling place to recover what belongs to Him. He leaves us here—asking for our protection—because our purpose is the same as His. He leaves us here for an appointed time to help recover those who are lost—return them to where they belong.

God created humans to long for where we belong. Those who follow Christ know our way home. Not of this culture, but counter to this culture. Not following the pleasures of this world, but yearning for the pleasure that is promised when we return to the God who appointed us.

Recommended Reading: Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller

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