Friday, January 16, 2009

In a conversation I had this week, the issue of the Christian's relationship to and love for the world surfaced again in my mind. I am convinced the Scriptures are clear in that the Christian life is not one of dichotomy or separationism for all life is to be devoted to Christ as "service of worship" (Rom 12:1-2). Nevertheless, the Bible abounds with references to abstain from the world and its manifold lusts:

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 1 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

James 4:4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

1 John 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.

John 15:19 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

What I find in these verses is a command from God written through His messengers for believers to abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts. That is to say, a Christian cannot live both a life longing for, indulging in, or finding satisfaction in the world and what it has to offer. This is the epitome of a person who is worldly-minded and focused on earthly things rather than heavenly things (cp. Col 3:1ff). I am not one who promotes a sort of 'asceticism' from the world, but I do believe that we must be careful how we talk, how we live, how we think, and how we interact with the world.

Life is not about being "cool." It's not about being united with the "cool crowd." Rather, all of life is to be worshipping Jesus Christ and satisfied in Him and Him alone (1 Cor 10:31; Eph 5:18-20). May we be Christians who filter everything that confronts us in this world with what God has to say in and through His inspired, inerrant, and sufficient Word. May we exemplify the command to:

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

This is not to fulfill a sort-of legalistic rule, but it is to abstain from that which defiles the mind, heart, and body. Let us be wholly devoted to Christ this day and every day of our lives. That which you see, hear, think, and do ought to be mined through the Word of God. God help us.


Anonymous said...

Geoff, Thomas Chalmers once gave a message called "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection".

Here's what Chalmers said...

"The love of God, and the love of the world, are two affections, not merely in a state of rivalship, but in a state of enmity, and that so irreconcilable that they can not dwell together in the same bosom. [It is impossible] for the heart, by any innate elasticity of its own, to cast the world away from it… the only way to dispossess it of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one.”
- “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection”, a sermon by Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847)

What does that mean?

Unless one is deeply in love with Christ, the love of the world will inevitably dominate. The only way to drive out one powerful affection is to displace it (or as Chalmers put it...expel it) with a contrary, more powerful affection. That is why simply telling someone not to love the world will not result in a heart change. They must love Christ so much that all other affections are displaced and seen as most unworthy and most unsatisfying.


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