Scripture is full of warnings against loving the world more than we love God and His Kingdom (examples 1John 2:15-17, James 4:4). Clearly this is a very real and present danger for believers. The odd thing is, I have met very few believers who even talk about this danger, much less admit the ways in which “the world” might have a hold on their affections. Could we really be the first generation of believers who have (finally) mastered the temptations the world has over us?
Um…I would say, “No.”
I think we are a generation of believers that are very good at not looking at this issue though. It is a painful issue. If we really looked at it, it might cause us to have to change – especially in ways that might cost us.
Let us take up the issue of fashion. I sit among women believers who chat amiably about “cute shoes,” “love your new hair cut!,” and “oh gosh, I spent way too much money for these, but aren’t they just great.” I don’t think God prefers that we all run around in sack cloth and ashes, mind. I think so long as we are covered and not lewd, God isn’t too worried about what we wear. God is not about the outside of us, but rather the heart. And so this is where this little arrow is aimed: what lies at the heart of why we care so much about the clothes we wear and how we look? Are our hearts more attached to looking young than to being holy, or generous, or kind? You see, it isn’t about hair or clothes or shoes. It is about discerning when we have set our heart on the things the world values. But we dare not even talk about it. Until we have the courage to “chat amiably” about our hearts’ longing, we are in danger of loving the world more than we love God.
Or if that issue doesn’t ring any bells for you, how about this one: where is your money going? Again, this is not for me to point fingers at others over money. This is an issue (like hair/clothing and so many others) that is first an issue of the heart. If it came down to the choice of tithing or paying the cable bill, which wins? Does my heart rate speed up when I see a collector car or motorcycle – does lust creep in over these things? If I see someone in need and have a few dollars in my pocket, what are the thoughts that run through my head about giving it away? Is money a thing for me to accrue or is it a matter of mercy?
No one can answer these tough questions for you or for me. We each must ask them and answer them in our time with God alone. Only God sees the heart. We can even lie to ourselves (and often do) – only God knows the internal truth.
All I can say is that God thought “the world” was such a danger to our journey of faith, He warned us of it over and over and over. Why then are we silent in our church, in our Bible study groups, and among each other on this issue? Do we – as the family of God – have the courage to ask ourselves and each other where “the world” has invaded?
I fear if we ever have such courage, we will find that, indeed, “the world” has not only invaded, but taken up residence and made itself at home. We may love Jesus and we may be saved – but our witness to the world is tainted. And that, my brothers and sisters, suits Satan just fine.