The Sneaky and Deceptive Power of the World
"Worldliness is whatever makes sin look normal and righteousness look strange."
One pastor gave this correct obeservation about true worldliness. I know because I have felt the tug and the pull of the world. Not a day goes by where we are not allured by the commericals, Facebook feeds, and the magazine stands to love the world more and to love Jesus less. The more you fall in the love with the world, the more the world just seems right to us.
I truly believe that any Christian who believes that the world has no power is either worshipping Christ in heaven right now or he is so blinded by the world that he can't see his bondage to the world.
We, the church, need to see that the world is terrorizing and destroying our gospel witness. And it's not because the state wants to persecute the church. It's not because our jobs won't let us speak up about Christ. It's not because our neighbors and friends just won't listen. No! Our main struggle is not that the world hates us, it's that the church too often loves the world.
J.C. Ryle knew the power of the world. He called worldiness in his church an epidemic that has to be stopped. The crazy part about his analysis was that he stated this in the 1800's.
I believe his words still ring true for the church today. Yes, we have to love those with the love of Christ who are in the world, but we can't love the world and the things in the world. Listen to Ryle's counsel below. He might sound radical to our ears, but they are biblical words. These are biblical calls to discipleship. They might be hard words for the church today, but these are true words that if we fail to hear we might just kill our witness:
Beware of a half-hearted religion. Beware of following Christ from any secondary motive, to please relations and friends, to keep in with the custom of the place or family in which you reside, to appear respectable and have the reputation of being religious.Follow Christ for His own sake, if you follow Him at all. Be thorough, be real, be honest, be sound, be wholehearted. If you have any religion at all, let your religion be real. See that you do not sin the sin of Lot's Wife.
Beware of ever supposing that you may go too far in religion, and of secretly trying to keep in with the world. I want no reader of this paper to become a hermit, a monk, or a nun: I wish every one to do his real duty in that state of life to which he is called. But I do urge on every professing Christian who wishes to be happy, the immense importance of making no compromise between God and the world. Do not try to drive a hard bargain, as if you wanted to give Christ as little of your heart as possible, and to keep as much as possible of the things of this life. Beware lest you overreach yourself, and end by losing all. Love Christ with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. Seek first the kingdom of God, and believe that then all other things shall be added to you.
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."
-1 John 2:15-17