The life of a Christian is one that requires constant attention, correction, and motivation… We’ve all experienced it. We hit a lull in our passion. We get distracted from our mission. We start becoming concerned with things that, when all is said and done, really don’t need to be concerns. Why is this? Why does it take so much effort to stay on track? Why is it that we so frequently find ourselves wondering when we drifted away from God’s purpose for our lives? Martin Luther spent some time thinking about this and identified the 3 enemies of the Christian life as The World, The Flesh and Satan. In Scripture each one of these can be identified as potential distractions to God’s purpose in our lives. Let’s take a deeper look at these and see if we can work towards great faithfulness in this journey of following Jesus!
When Scripture talks about the world, what is it referring to?
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. -John 17:16
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 from the world-1 John 15-16
The “world” as a concept that Scripture refers to is described as “Worldly attitudes or values that are opposed to God.” When you read the Scriptures that talk about the world in this way, they seem to identify a collective movement or direction of culture and humanity that points people away from the heart of God. We might put something like consumerism in this category. The general direction of American (or Western) culture is that the basic needs of humanity: food, shelter, clothing–are simply not enough. The message of the “world” is largely being pushed by people who stand to make money off of a culture that buys in to the message of excess being normal. As Christians, when we buy into this message of the world, we find ourselves being increasingly less satisfied by God and more distracted by the offerings of the world. We make decisions to buy more, get more, eat more, wear more and it erodes our satisfaction in the presence of God in our lives.
We could also put bad theology that is widely adopted by culture in this category. For example, “God just wants me to be happy”. This is an underdeveloped “theological” statement that many in our culture have adopted, or at least used. Using this theology as a basis for action can lead to outcomes of divorce, debt, adultery, sexual immorality, dishonesty, and on and on. Unfortunately, it is a theology that is widely adopted and is a part of how the “world” thinks when it thinks about God.
When the Bible identifies the “world” as an enemy of righteousness, God is using it to help us see clearly the tendency of the world to operate outside of God’s authority. As Christians, our call is to be alert to the patterns of the world and to recognize when the mindsets, habits and patterns of the world have crept in to our lives. When they do, they prevent us from living lives of mission, worship, generosity, and intimacy with God.
So, here’s the $8 question… How has the world crept in to your life? In what way are the habits and patterns of the world, the world’s values, the world’s theologies, etc. affecting your life in Christ?
What disciplines can you take on to break free from the influence of the world? Here are a couple suggestions:
A time tithe… 2.5 hours a day in Scripture/Prayer–battle the influence of the world by giving God and His Word greater influence and input than the world.
A Media fast to break from the steady stream of influences–battle the influence of the world by cutting off it’s information flow.
A Dave Ramsey-esque financial commitment (get out of debt, live generously)–battle the influence of the world by living counter-culturally, living to give rather than get.
Share your home with a person or family in need of a place to live–battle the influence of the world by generously giving up some of it’s favorite rights, like space and privacy.
Do you have any recommendations or things that you’ve done to center your life more on the influence of Jesus and his word than the message of the world?
This is Part I, in parts II and III we will discuss 2 more enemies that the Christian life faces… The world is just one of them. When you realize this, you understand why Peter admonished the church to Be sober-minded and watchful -1 Peter 5:8
For the glory of God in this world and in our lives, let’s be overwhelmed by God!