“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:16).

Four words are repeated here in this verse, and the same four words are also repeated in John 18:36. They are four words that inspired a clothing line known by the acronym NOTW, which stands for “Not Of This World.” There were t-shirts, hats, tattoos, jewelry, and bumper stickers — lots of bumper stickers — all with the edgy-looking logo that was made out of those four letters, NOTW. The N and W on either side are meant to be reminiscent of angel wings, the O is a small halo-looking oval, and then the T is lowercase and resembles a cross at the center. It is an eye-catching logo that walks that line of looking good, without being too religious, so it became very popular in the early 2000s.

These days, I don’t see many of those t-shirts, but it still remains a very popular Christian bumper sticker. I’m guessing that on any given Sunday, you will find at least a dozen NOTW stickers in various church parking lots. Now, if one of those is on your car, I don’t want you to feel bad about it, but I do want to point out how it might sound to unbelievers.

It might communicate some unintentional things like these…

“This world is beneath me… I’m so much better because I am ‘not of this world’ like you.” Yikes.

“There’s another world that you don’t know anything about.” People might think we’re part of one of those alien cults.

“This world really doesn’t matter. It’s all gonna burn anyway, so I’m more interested in the next world.” They might respond, “You go living in your other world, while I care about this one.”

Now, I know that no one who wore those shirts, put that bumper sticker on their car, or even got this phrase tattooed on their shoulder had these attitudes. I’m more concerned about what it can say to someone who doesn’t understand. The truth is that this logo and the concept is a great conversation starter, but it just reminds us that a t-shirt or bumper sticker is not good evangelism. We need to talk to people in a way that expresses the heart of Jesus because remember, Jesus has called us out of the world, but then he has sent us back into the world for the sake of the world.

So, let’s love the people of the world and do our best to communicate God’s love for the world in all that we do.

Josh Rose
Discipleship Pastor

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