‘’Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not
have the love of the Father in you.’’ (1 John 2:15: NLT).
What is a worldly Christian?
Christians often use a list of do’s and don’ts to single out ‘worldly Christians’. Individuals may be classified as worldly according to how they dress, the music they listen to, the places they go to, and activities they engage in.
Different Christians have different standards, what may seem okay for you may be completely unacceptable to another. For example, some Christians believe that lipstick is the ‘devil’s grease’, so they consider wearing lipstick a worldly thing because the devil is behind the lipstick industry. This may seem absurd to some but there are individuals that honestly believe this is true.
As Christians we often confuse our opinions and convictions with the TRUTH.
Opinion: – A view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or
Conviction: – A firmly held belief or opinion.
Truth: – The word of God… ‘’ teach them your word, which is truth.’’ (John 17:7: NLT)
Different Christians have different ‘lists’ and this often leads to the formation of Christian hubs made up of people that have similar lists. This is where the danger comes in, because if someone does not live up to their list of rules and regulations then they are considered ‘worldly’. It also leads to individuals putting themselves on a pedestal because they feel that they are more holy than others. It also causes people to isolate themselves from others that they feel have become too worldly, because they do not want to be contaminated by their ways.
This is where the danger comes in. Worldliness is as much internal as it is external.
This kind of attitude in itself is not of God. The bible teaches us not to exalt ourselves above others, rather to think of others as better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3, Matthew 23:12).
Isolating ourselves from each other is also contrary to the will of God.
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
The love, joy, peace and happiness of the lord shines through us unto others. How can
people experience these things through us if we isolate ourselves from them? Jesus’
ministry would not have been successful if he just surrounded himself with people that he thought had it all together. In fact, he would not have had a ministry altogether if that was the case…
We do not want to fall into the same trap as the Pharisees. They were great at upholding
religious laws and practices but missed the heart of Jesus. Our lists of dos and don’ts mean absolutely nothing if our hearts are not aligned with the will of God. Looking good on the outside is not good enough.
25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. (Matthew 23: 25).
Don’t get me wrong, there are instances when isolating yourself from certain individuals
may be necessary, as it may be damaging to your spiritual growth. However, there are many people living in their own little bubbles which can actually do more harm than good. We are in the world and come into contact with things of the world every day. For as long as you live on this earth, you cannot avoid interacting with the world and the people in it.
We have to remember the fact that we are not passive agents… we have self-control! The more we exercise self-control, the better we get at being able to discipline ourselves in certain situations.
We can still remain committed to the values of God’s Kingdom without isolating
ourselves from the world. Our temptations and weaknesses will always be around us, we
have to stay alert and continually devise new strategies to ensure that they don’t get the
better of us.
On the other hand, Christians can also become completely consumed by the world. Although as the ‘lists’ I spoke about earlier are debateable, there is nothing debateable about the word of God. It is possible to become so wrapped up in the world that you begin to live a life contrary to his word. This is what was John was warning us about.
1 John 2:15-16 (AMP)
15 Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are 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 and sensual craving of the flesh and the
lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world.
It is very easy to get the point where you are only interested in feeding the desires of your flesh at the expense of your spirit. The more you feed your flesh the stronger it becomes and the weaker your spirit becomes. Our spirit is the part of us that connects us to God, therefore the weaker our connection becomes.
Often people get to a place where they feel lost. They have come so far away from God that they don’t know how to get back.
No matter how ‘deep’ you feel your connection is with God, no one is immune to this. It can happen to any of us. We are all humans and feeding the flesh brings us pleasure. It is not wrong to seek pleasure, however it is wrong to be driven by it. Amidst all the bad, there are some good things in the world.
One of our life long challenges is to be able to take what we need from it without getting consumed by the bad. It is possible to be in the world and enjoy what it has to offer without compromising our relationship God, but we need to stay grounded.
Acts 24:16 AMP:
Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavouring in all respects] to have a clean (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offence toward God and toward men.
We also need remember that we are not permanent residents on earth. YOLO will not help us. You only live once but you are only judged once too…
Ecclesiastes 11:9 (NIV)
You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the
days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know
that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
1 Peter 2:11 (NLT):
Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.
Our time here is limited so we have to ensure that our fellowship with God is not hindered by our attitudes and lifestyles on earth. The bible tells us to live as citizens of heaven (Philippians 1:27).
Whether we like it or not people are looking at the way we conduct
ourselves, and will judge us even more harshly because we claim to be Christians. Yes, only God can judge you and yes only God knows your heart. But there are many instances where as Christians we are not practicing the gospel and people are looking at us side-eyed.
We are representatives of the Kingdom of God, it is a huge responsibility but nonetheless it is the path we have chosen. So in all that we do it is important that we represent the kingdom, because it is our responsibility to shine his light.
We can have fun and enjoy what the world has to offer (within reason) but this has to be
done in moderation and we have to remain grounded by renewing our minds with his word and through constant prayer.
Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Amen! Serious food for thought. Written by the amazing Bernie. xxx
Good reads on this topic:
- Politically Incorrect Christianity: Living the Truth–Love Not the World
- What does it mean to be a “worldly Christian?”