Be Careful of the World
We often sing, “This world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through.” This expresses a sense of heavenly citizenship and hope that we have in the inheritance promised by God (1 Pet 1:3-5). It is good to be reminded of how important it is to keep our hearts focuses on Christ and toward the heavenly hope. This is the anchor of our souls (Heb 6:13-20).
Hearing and seeing the world sound like and look like “the world” should not surprise us as Christians. As far as the world is concerned, we should know what to expect. We can identify the world for what it is and not be afraid of it. Poison isn’t so scary when we know what it is and know how to avoid it. If we are aware and prepared, we can handle what the world throws at us. God has given us the armor to withstand along with the sword of the Spirit to wield (Eph 6:10-18). Let us never underestimate the importance of the preparation and dedication to our relationship with God. As James wrote, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jas 4:4).
What does frighten me is when Christians sound like and look like the world. When the world has had such a strong impact on our thinking and way of life that we cannot imagine life without the things it offers, without our sense of worldly entitlements, we are in spiritual trouble. We ought to think of the rich young ruler who went away grieved at being told he needed to sell what he had, give to the poor, and follow Jesus (Mark 10:17-22). How would we react to such a radical statement? If our first reaction is, “well that doesn’t apply to me,” it may have more application than we realize. How much would I be willing to divest for the sake of Christ?
What frightens me even more is when I realize that I (make it personal) sound like and look like the world. This is not just about “them.” When my mind is more informed by worldly agendas than by the word of God, that troubles me. When the world sets the tone for how to discuss and defend causes, I am unsettled when I see myself buying into that. I am disconcerted by the direction of my heart when I feel pulled by the calling of the world. This is when the poison doesn’t seem like poison anymore and it becomes easy to rationalize worldly thoughts and actions.
I suspect this is something with which all of us must come to terms. We know we are not to love the world nor the things in the world (1 John 2:15-17). We know that the weapons of our warfare are not to be carnal as every thought is brought under obedience to Christ (2 Cor 10:3-5). We know that our minds are not to be divided and taken away from the purity of devotion to Christ (2 Cor 11:3-4).
“Come out of her” is the calling of our Lord (2 Cor 6:14-18). We cannot serve God and mammon (Matt 6:24). We cannot worship Caesar as lord and still think we are being loyal to our true Lord and King. The god of this world blinds the minds of the unbelieving, so when our vision is becoming blurry, we have a problem. It’s time to cut off the hand, cut off the foot, and pluck out the eye that causes us to stumble (Mark 9:43-50). Sin is that bad. So let us listen to John:
“I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities’” (Rev 18:4-5).
The beauty of the gospel is found in redemption. This does not reflect the thinking of humanity, for God’s thoughts and ways are not ours. But there is a way of hope, peace, and compassion to be found in seeking the Lord. Hope is not found in earthly princes, worldly kingdoms, and carnal causes. Hope will only be found in our Lord.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:6-7)
Let us be careful. May God help us to navigate through this world in a way that glorifies God and focuses on Jesus our Lord!