Word of the Day
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”(I John 2:15-17). Very strong words. When was the last time you heard even a reference to these words in the Church?
Now, I’m not a scholar of any kind–church, history, Greek, Bible–so I am at a disadvantage when it comes to knowing the background of words, events, ideas, etc. But I can read and so I will approach this passage from that vantage point.
As I understand it, there are three Greek words that are translated “world” in the New Testament. One of these words has to do with the world’s population, the inhabitants of the planet–just the people who live here.
Another word has to do with the passing of time, the “age” that is marked by its spiritual or moral attributes. In other words, it has to do with this time that is marked by Satan’s rule over the planet. And one day his rule and this “age” will come to an end.
The other word, the one I want to focus on here, is the word that describes the way the world does things, the “world order”. This word always stands in contradiction to God and to His Word. It opposes everything that God stands for. “The world(world order) cannot hate you; But Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.”(John 7:7). “If the world(world order) hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world(world order), the world(world order) would love his own: but because ye are not of the world(world order), but I have chosen you out of the world(world order), therefore the world(world order) hateth you. “(John 15:18, 19). Very clear words about the world’s attitude toward Jesus and toward true believers.
So how does all this concern me, personally, and the Church, corporately? The answer to this is very troubling, indeed, because I have to sit down and look at what I approve in my life and partake in. There are only two sources of anything and everything in this world-God or Satan. No between, neutral ground, no “gray” areas. And the Bible clearly tells me that, as a believer, I am an “ambassador” for Christ in the circle where I live, work, mingle, do business, intermingle, etc(II Cor.5:20). As such I have to make a clear choice about what I accept into my life and what I reject for my life. And I must base that choice on the Word of God.
The same with the Church. As a Body, the New Testament Church is the living representative of Jesus Christ in this world. With all the definitions and descriptions given to the Church today, I like only one, a “little colony of Heaven on earth”. As the Church of Jesus Christ, we are to embody everything that He did while here. We are to love, to speak, to oppose, to draw people, to edify people, to correct people, in the same way He did. And in order to do that, we must emulate Him in every way under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit.
Herein is the rub. We have so soft-soaped the gospel today, we have so compromised our stand so we won’t offend anyone, we have so abandoned our stand against sin, that there is not much difference between the world(world order) and the New Testament Church. There was a time when the New Testament Church stood against worldly involvements such as dancing, theaters, drinking, gambling, wearing suggestive and revealing clothing(and the list goes on…), but now all these are not even mentioned from today’s pulpits. In fact, often, they are welcomed into the Church because the “folks like them”.
Now I know this all sounds like a list of “thou shalt nots”(and we highly frown on that list), and it may have an element of truth in that accusation. But, is it not true that we have to draw a line between ourselves and the world order?
Walking by faith has been thrown out the window, both personally, and by the Church, again, corporately. We embrace the world order’s system of finances, of living day-to-day, of raising our families, of engaging “our society”, of operating the Church, of promoting the “gospel” etc(again, the list goes on…). We have resorted to surveys, to polls, to “gimmicks” to attract people, to programs, to methodologies, to strategies, to making everything comfortable, in order to bring the world order into the Church. I had a dear friend that often said that, for the last 70 years, we have tried to teach lost people how to live like Christians(I often wonder what Paul used to “attract” people when he went into a new location).
There is no more repentance for anyone, saved or lost. There is no more restitution when wrongs are done. There is no more open confession of sin. There is no more church discipline(and again the list goes on…).
Today we get up in our comfortable air-conditioned homes, get ready in the comfortable surroundings of our homes, get in our air-conditioned vehicles, drive on our smoothly paved roads to the “church house”, go into our air-conditioned buildings, sit in our cushioned, comfortable seats, listen to a vague, pointless Sunday School lesson, then go into our air-conditioned, “rarified-air” sanctuary, cross our arms, and tell the preacher to “bless me if you can”.
In the “services” we expect to hear light, uplifting singing, flawless music performed by highly trained musicians, be lead in “worship” by a flawless “worship leader” and then sit back comfortably while the pastor preaches a pointless, short “sermonette” that offends nor changes anyone.
After having to “endure” all this “suffering” we go home feeling so good and congratulating ourselves for having been so faithful to “press on for God”.
Folks, where is the “old-time” preaching when congregants, as well as sinners, would flood to the altars of God, weeping over sin, family, church, country? Weeping over broken homes, wayward kids, encroaching sin into the church? Weeping over the lost, for the missionaries, for our leaders? Just weeping over the condition of our world?