Make A Choice   2 comments

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Few problems have troubled the Christian churches more through the centuries than worldliness. In fact, I would go so far as to say that worldliness has been our number one problem for about 2000 years. In an effort to be “relevant” and reach our culture, there is the very real danger that we will become just like the culture and lose our distinctiveness. We’ve done it many times, in fact.

No, worldliness is not a new problem. The apostle Paul warned of the danger in Romans 12:2:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….”

A quick translation of that is – don’t let the world mold you to its image, but allow the Holy Spirit to transform you into the image of God.

Toward the end of his life, Paul sadly wrote to Timothy:

“For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” 2 Timothy 4:10

Even though he had once been a fellow-worker with the great apostle Paul (Philemon 24), Demas succumbed to the lure of the world.

The pervasive influence of modern media assures the tug of the world is greater now than it ever has been. We are bombarded with attractive people telling us that we can’t be happy unless we own the product that they are selling or adopt the lifestyle that they are pursuing. We thumb through magazines that lure us with beautiful homes, new cars, luxury items, or expensive vacations, promising that all can be ours if we just get enough money or go into enough debt. It is lust for the things of the world that prompts Americans to spend billions on casino gambling and lottery tickets. Just one lucky hit and you will have it all!

Christians have often swung hard in the opposite direction in attempts to counter worldliness. Sects have withdrawn from the world and/or imposed extra rules to rein in the flesh. The monastic movement and isolationist groups like the Amish as examples of this. In the 4th-5th centuries Simon the Stylite (c. 390-459) lived in extreme austerity for 36 years on top of a platform on a 60-foot pillar. Thousands of people flocked to see this “unworldly” man and listen to his preaching. I doubt that Simon is a model of what John had in mind when he warned us not to love the world!

My father grew up in a Wesleyan Methodist home where you weren’t supposed to smoke, drink, attend movies, play cards, or dance. Some older friends of mine attended a Bible institute where he couldn’t hold hands with his wife on campus. Yes, they were married at the time. While they were on campus, a fellow student was expelled for hugging his wife in public. The expulsion charge was “worldly behavior”.

Concerning such man-made rules, Paul wrote:

“These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” (Colossians 2:23)

The rules approach to the problem of worldliness doesn’t work because worldliness is, at base, a matter of the heart. If the world has captured your heart, you will love the things of the world. If the love of God has captured your heart, you will be drawn to Jesus and to the things of God. The only way that our hearts can be transformed so that we love God is by the supernatural new birth.

The early churches were being infected and confused by certain heretics who claimed to have enlightenment, but John the apostle wrote that they were still in darkness. They tried to draw people into their inner circle of knowledge, but their doctrine and their practice revealed that they did not truly know God. John gave three tests by which his readers could evaluate these teachers and by which they could tell whether their own faith was sound. These three tests are:

  • moral (or obedience to God)
  • relational (love for others)
  • doctrinal (believing the truth about Jesus Christ).

In 1 John 2:3-6, John applied the first test: authentic faith obeys God’s commandments. In 2:7-11, he applied the second test: authentic faith loves God’s people. He paused (2:12-14) to give an assuring clarification –he was confident that his readers had authentic faith. He then resumed his application of the tests by showing that authentic faith is not of the world (2:15-17), but rather it knows and believes the truth about Jesus Christ (2:18-27). John characteristically drew a sharp line, with no middle ground:

You either love the world and do not love the Father or you love the Father and hate the world. You cannot do both.

John echoed Jesus’ own words:

“You cannot serve God and Mammon.” Luke 16:13

Jesus did not say, “You should not serve God and Mammon,” but, “you cannot” serve them both. Jesus did not teach a cafeteria faith.

Once you’ve made the basic decision to love the Father, you must fight to maintain your choice against the strong current of the world. “Do not love” is a present imperative, indicating that it is an ongoing battle. “Love” is the Greek agape, indicating that it is a commitment, not a feeling, that John is commanding. The only way that you can fight the love of the world is to maintain and grow in your love for the Father.

But what is the world?

Posted January 12, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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2 responses to “Make A Choice

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  1. Pingback: Cultural Dance | aurorawatcherak

  2. Pingback: Preparing for the Kingdom | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

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