Worldly

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A new slogan and marketing campaign launched by my other higher education provider earlier this year has caught my attention—and imagination.

Deakin University’s new attempt to encapsulate, position and promote itself in a single, bold word is “Worldly”.

However, we also need to reclaim and redeem “worldly”—in the best sense of the word—as part of our sense of identity and mission.

As someone who grew up in a church environment, I don’t think I have ever heard this word used positively, so the idea of successfully pitching this to the university intrigued me. “Worldly”, it seems, is the word that best sums up what Deakin aspires to be and why prospective students should choose to study there.

The continuing roll-out of the marketing materials has added to the picture of “Worldly” as a promise to expand a student’s experiences and understandings of our world in a holistic way, becoming engaged with, interested in and passionate about—as well as relevant and useful to—the wider world. This, as counterintuitive as it might initially sound, is exactly what Christians, churches and church-based entities are called to do and be.

The Christian’s relationship with the “world” should always be one of tension, best summed up by James in a call to care about the world around us, particularly those in need, at the same time as we “refuse to let the world corrupt us” (James 1:27, NLT). It’s in this second sense that the word “worldly” has been a negative and even threatening or dismissive description in most common Christian usage.

However, we also need to reclaim and redeem “worldly”—in the best sense of the word—as part of our sense of identity and mission. After all, it’s the motivation ascribed to God Himself for His mission to our world: “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only son . . .” (see John 3:16, NLT). That mission includes us—and the rest of the world. And we are called to be “worldly” agents of His kingdom mission.

Nathan Brown is a Masters of Arts (Research) student at Avondale College of Higher Education and book editor at Adventist Media Network.