Living without Worldliness
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
The world. Such a simple word and yet it causes plenty controversy in the faith. Laying aside soteriological discussions I’d like to make a comment about the confusion between ‘the world’ and ‘the culture’ or between ‘worldliness’ and ‘cultural’ or to put it another way, the difference between being ‘in the world’ and being ‘of the world’.
Being worldly is to accept the things of this life as your rule of thumb. To be worldly is to find your happiness in the things of this life and to find your joy in them. To be worldly is to follow the philosophies of this life and its principles and wisdom, particularly when they conflict with what God’s Word promotes. Worldliness shows itself in a lifestyle that finds God’s ways lacking and His portion unsatisfying. Rather than being content with the heavenly banquet found in a focus on things above, a worldly person focuses on things of the earth. Social status, income brackets, retirement packages, and coolness become the gauge and holiness, righteousness and obedience are seen as burdens and not privileged pleasures.
It is not a question of whether or not you are culturally aware, but rather whether or not you find your fill in it. What satiates your soul ? Do you spend more time watching certain things on television than you do before God in the presence of His Word? It is not the watching of television that creates worldliness; it is the loving of what you see and hear and especially the lack of renewal from proper biblical meals that fosters a sickly disposition. What makes your life worldly is when you are CONFORMED to this world by cultural influences using its guidelines as your own and ignoring the prescriptions of God.
When we see marriage as an arrangement of convenience and not a life vow we have been conformed.
When we say that we have fallen out of love with our spouse then we prove that we never knew what marital love was in the first place.”
When we center our homes around our children instead of teaching them to center themselves around the home we’ve conformed to the world.
When we send our wives into the market place at the expense of our household and the important task of childrearing we have been conformed to the world.
When we turn sin into disorder and syndrome and disease we have been conformed to the world.
When we hold grudges against those we should forgive we have become the world.
When we only obey our authorities if they are good and nice to us than we are just like the world.
When we show favoritism towards certain social classes and ethnic groups and instead make others sit in the bleacher seats we have most assuredly been taken in to the world’s system of thought. These are sinful ways and we should flee them.
Keeping oneself unstained by the world does not mean never living in it or spending time in the culture. What it does mean; however, is that we should avoid being influenced into varying our lives to match the acceptance of it.
We should avoid adopting its gratifications as our own and we should resist the ways that violate the Lord’s will for our lives. We can attend museum openings, concerts, plays, and festivals and not be stained. Our pleasure and desire is found with and in Him and we should stay clear of things that press our weaknesses, but bringing the glory of Christ to the world means that we must actually be in it for that is where the residents live.
Where should the light shine? In the darkest of places. Christ ate with the dregs of his day and ministered in the despised regions of Galilee and Samaria yet he was not of this world. He was not called a glutton and winebibber because he ate granola at home and sipped non-alcoholic champagne. We, like Him, can partake in the culture without being of it.
May we all learn to sojourn with a mentality to proclaim, influence, witness, and live out the truth of our new birth and the reality of the Gospel. See you in the streets.