♣ At Home With The World

James 4:1-10

“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:4)

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.” (1 John 2:15)              

I often wonder as to whether or not we really understand what the Spirit of God implied through the pen of James, because much of westernized-cultured-Christianity seems so spiritually anaesthetized to the serious warnings contained in his fourth chapter. It is not often we hear the modern church addressing the issues of carnal Christianity (if such a thing does really exist), and if we do, how many of us listen with our hearts?

John, in his 1st epistle chapter two, gave the same sobering weight of truth: “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.” He is referring to the system, the spirit and mentality of the world. Both authors either were narrow-minded, naïve and unreal, or they penned the very oracles of God Himself. Much of our actions really do tell whether or not we believe the bible to be the inspired Word of God; the little impact today’s Christianity has in the world reveals the lack of seriousness in adhering to the pattern of God’s Word.

We live in this world, we are rightfully a part of society as much as everyone else, but our values, as Christians, determines the manner in which we live that ought to differentiate us from others who walk against the ways of God. Withdrawing oneself to live a monastic and secluded lifestyle in order to progress in sanctification is contrary to what the scriptures teach and imply. That is nothing more than a mere fixation and obsession with ones own purity, the very heartbeat of Pharisee-ism and a repugnant stench to God. “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. As you sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:15, 16, 18).

If Christianity can only succeed in the absence of society, then it is rendered useless to a needy world, and is just another religion, cult – a man-fabricated-spirituality that irritates rather than alleviates. Of course, as Christians, we are a part of what constitutes society, but what governs our way of living is where the difference comes in as Lloyd-Jones said, “According to the New Testament, it should not be difficult to tell who is a Christian, for Christians are not merely people who are slightly better than others. They are not merely people who have added something to their lives. They belong to a different realm, to a different organisation; they are utterly different. ‘We are of God and the whole world lies in wickedness.’ You cannot imagine a greater contrast.” We are either under the regime of the god of this world or we are governed by the righteous reign of God’s eternal kingdom. Either determines where we really feel at home; whether we feel comfortable, content and enthused with this transient world, or rather looking with eagerness at the Heavenly City to come.

This is what marked and distinguished the early Christians, whose outlook was stamped by eternity and who turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). They may have been ‘undeveloped’ and ‘ignorant’ in comparison to our so-called ‘wonderful, progressive and enlightened’ civilization – so we are bent on believing, but one aspect (among many) for certain is that they had power where many today only have a form of godliness; they knew God, our era only knows about Him. So much for all our learning! The modern church has certainly fulfilled the requirements in forfeiting the power of genuine Christianity in exchange for the comfort of this present world.

No one questions that we live and move in a multi-media driven era. The world’s ways and methods of entertainment sway along huge proportions of Christians. Music and films have more influence in the church than Christ does. So many hits in the music charts that condone self expression at the expense of morality, and the prolific array of movies that display a new vogue that is so anti-Christ, are highly rated and applauded by so many who profess to love God. In essence, it is a glorification of what is wrong – and we call it art?! Much of what constitutes our television and cable programmes that are senseless, unedifying and harmful grip a wide audience, let alone to mention the tension and obsession for fear of missing an episode! Is that “making the best use the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16)? We read, watch, listen to and engage in topics that appeal to us, and what appeals to us will influence every part of us – “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5) – The fact that such things do not have a repulsive effect on those who partake in them says a great deal. The indifference to ungodliness and wide acceptance of the ‘status-quo’ reveals a love of the world and the things of it. There is no middle ground here by justifying the excuse of one’s curiosity with what goes on in our society in order to relate to it. Walking with God inevitably results in being relevant to the world’s true need, without having to try (proverbs 11:30).

Remember what Paul said in Romans 6:21, “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” What benefit came of the life we led prior to our conversion? We have been called out of darkness into His marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9). That is not a reminder we have ‘found the light’, but rather we have been saved into another realm, into God’s kingdom; from enslavement to the prince of this dark regime, so why live any longer as if we were still a part of this world’s lie and deception? We have been chosen, called, not just to be saved but primarily to proclaim with our lives (the entirety of out being) the wonders of God – “a people for His possession , that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him…(1 Peter 2:9). Furthermore in verse 11, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” And furthermore in chapter four verse two, “…so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh [body] no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” The author to Ephesians echoes the same exhortation in the first ten verses of chapter two. Here, Paul speaks of what we once were – sons of disobedience, children under the wrath of God, living for our own ends, but now we have been made alive in Christ for good works – that we should walk in them. Listen to Paul again: “What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness, what fellowship has light with darkness, what accord has Christ with Belial…since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 6:14, 15; 7:1)

These are just a few texts among many others but they are enough in and of themselves to refute a Christian’s argument in being attached to this world. What good did we gain from the things we have been delivered from? We have very little time to prepare for eternity, so why waste time in pointless, empty and vain pursuits – why? “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

What is alarming is how many Christians see no wrong in mixing light with darkness, the world and God. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11) is an exhortation we need to listen to loud and clear, especially in our media orientated world. This is a serious issue – more serious than we are prepared to realize, and it will take nothing less than an acute awareness of God’s presence and holiness to show how far we have wandered from Him, or whether we were really in Him to begin with.

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Posted on February 6, 2012, in ♣ Devotional and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I, too, believe that we are called to be set apart in a world that doesn’t understand why we should be set apart. Glad I stumbled on your blog. Sandy

    • Hi Sandy,

      Thank you for taking the time to read. This is one of the most difficult eras we live in as Christians. It’s the subtlety of ease that has dulled many. God give us grace to live lives worthy of His calling.

      “Awake, O sleeper,
      and arise from the dead,
      and Christ will shine on you.” – Ephesians 5:14

      Every blessing,
      Mark.

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