"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". 1 John 2:15
Thomas Jefferson famously created a bible that was unlike any other created. He went through the scriptures and carefully removed all teachings he did not agree with. He created the "Jefferson Bible". A book that complimented and accorded with his personal worldview. Thus he removed any supernatural interventions, anything pertaining to God's wrath against sin, hell, and any other teaching that contradicted his views. Such an action brings a wincing response from most Christians. But in all truth we all to some degree are guilty of the same mistake that Jefferson made. Making the bible out to say what we would like it to say rather than what it truly proclaims.
After all our generation (named generation Y) more than any other is influenced by this notion of individual truth. And although within Christendom many would stand poingnantly on the fact that truth is Christ and we are his. The daily manner in which we live does little to indicate that we are a people who have been liberated from the bondage of the world. We are quick to justify and acculturate many of the teachings of the bible as pertinent only to the 1st century or simply to not investigate our actions closely to examine if we have fallen prey to worldliness.
I can't help but think that in our desire to be relevant we have lost sight of much of the cross and our call to live in such a manner that our example draws others to proclaim that there must be something so much greater that explains such behavior. A simple look at your own life will likely draw out that for many of us this this is not the case. Like when was the last time you abstained from a movie because you felt it was not honoring to God, a TV show, ejected a CD whose language profaned God or his creation, gave up something or downsized for something that worked just as well, simply so that you would be able to bless something or someone other than yourself. Abstained from reading fashion magazines simply to refrain from the trashiness that many bring?
I can't help but think that in our efforts to right the wrongs of our parents and not be fundamentalist we have loosed our moral compasses and have become innoculated to a world that beckons to make us impotent and destroy us. I don't think that worldliness is something that suddenly rips us from the bosom of Christ. Rather it is subtle and insiduious. It creeps in and over a period of slow drifting. Drifting that doesn't take place in a way that is always easy to identify. Drifters may still be there on sunday, still sing the worship songs, and still seem ok. But inside are drifting, drifting away from the cross and further towards the world. Sin no longer convicts them as it once did, no longer seems as big of a deal, and slowly their affection for Jesus grows dim and passion for his kingdom begans to placate.
Charles Spurgeon put well 150 years ago he stated " The more the Church in her acts and her maxims, the more true is her testimony for Christ." Spurgeon emboldens his congregation to live in a manner that displayed the awesomeness of Christ and his desire for holiness. But this thinking has been removed. We seem to desire just enough of the world to tolerate it without become intoxicated from its power. The world has permeated almost every facet of our culture. Love for this world looks radically different than the love for God that the bible commands. Joel Bleeke define the goal of worldly people this way. He said their goal "is to move forward rather than upward, to live horizontally rather than vertically. They seek after outward prosperity rather than holiness. They burst with selfish desires rather than heartfelt supplications. If they do not deny God, they ignore Him, or else they use him only for their selfish ends..." How often is this the case, how many have fallen in love with the creation of the world and its inhabitants rather than truly fallen in love with the creator of the universe. Like what are our goals? What drives us? Financil security? More friends? Successful children? Spouse? or are our goals more upward? To obey and glorify God above all other aspects of life. Is this the pinnacle of our existence?
Make no mistake it is neither the person who abstains from the world entirely, nor the person who engages it who has mastered the art of being in the world and not of it. It is a matter of the heart. External indicators are not always as accurate as we like to think and can be incredibly misleading. Worldliness is internal. It is the inner cravings of a man that lead him into worldliness, aqquiring what John Owen said was " living affections for dying things".
But praise Christ that through the cross we have imputed righteousness through the cross to cleanse us of sin and imparted righteousness to allow us to walk in freedom from the lusts of this world. May we do well to listen to Spurgeons plea that as Christians we "Dwell where the cries of Calvary can be heard" and in doing this the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. May we press to eradicate our lives of love for this world, but realize and meditate on the cross, its power, the ramifications of the cross and our Lord.