by Ken Cooper
There is great concern in the Christian community today about the relationship between the church and the world. Jesus said we are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. That means that Christians, the church, are to influence the world and be agents of change for the better. As Christianity spreads, the world should become more Christian, the world should be becoming more and more like the place God intended it to be. But that hasn’t proven to be true. The church is looking more like the world than the world is looking like the church. That means the world has more influence on individual Christians’ lives than their faith does. It’s not surprising in light of the recent reports of many Christians’ faith not taking top priority in their lives.
The apostle John shares a valuable truth with us in 1 John 2:1-17, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world– the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does– comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” Most often we read these verses and assume that he meant somebody other than ourselves. “After all,” we think, “I don’t have any trouble with the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what I have and do.” We usually associate those things with extremely sinful people, not ourselves. But what is John really referring to? The cravings of sinful man– could that mean an appetite for more of this world’s goods and pleasures? Could it refer to a desire to have a larger house, a more luxurious car, or vacations in exotic places? Could it mean a desire for worldly success that leads one to neglect family and friends? Could that mean an appetite for “the good life” and relegating our faith to a secondary role in our life? The lust of his eyes– watch television for an hour, how many times do advertisers appeal to the lust of the eyes?
Remember back when the publishers’ Clearing House Sweepstakes entry would come in the mail. What did the pictures portray? Could it be that we are swayed by the same lusts that the world is swayed by? The boasting of what he has and does– we men are really bad about this. We like to let others know just how much we have accomplished and accumulated in our life. But it’s not just a man problem, everyone has to deal with that temptation in one form or another. We need to sit down and have a heart to heart talk with ourselves and ask ourselves a couple of questions.
- When people see me, does my life reflect Christian values or worldly values?
- Have I really allowed God to transform me by the renewing of my mind? (Romans 12:2)
It is way past time for believers to quit playing around with Christianity and to get serious about making disciples of all nations. How about you? Are you ready to get serious about your faith? Listen to the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 13:11-14. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. NIV