The Gamble

What is so bad about the “world”? Why do you hear pastors teach against the “world”? In John 15: 19 it says “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”

You should understand by now that Pastor John Bevere* is predicating his whole book on the idea that Christians should understand that God is calling them out of this world and into service to His Kingdom. When a person declares that they have been born again, they are really saying they are a brand new creation. The other person who has lived in that body is gone. The new creation is dedicated to God. Our heavenly Father is directing life now.

The problem is that too often we slip back into worship of worldly things even after we declare we are serving God. If you worshipped the pursuit of money before you gave your life to Christ, those thinking habits are hard to break. Displays of wealth will get your attention, despite your commitment to Christ. If you had a problem with the need for total control before you gave your life to Christ, you might desire total control from time to time even though you know you should not need it and you can never even have total control. It does not exist. Maybe you love the way alcohol makes you feel when you have worked hard all day. When the commercial on your television shows young people relaxing by the ocean with beer in hand, it is easy to visualize yourself in the beach chair listening to the waves come ashore. You know that you can’t stop with just one; you used to drink until you got drunk and that habit is hard to break, but you have given your life to Christ and overindulgence is no longer on your radar screen. Habits are hard to break.

It is so easy to slip back into “the world.” Some of you may have heard the expression that we may become a new person in Christ but that old person is still there in a bag you have over your shoulder. Sometimes that old person escapes from the bag. We may try to keep them in the bag but they may get out from time to time anyway.

Bevere says “dear Christ follower: the world is seeking you out. The world’s invitation into a relationship is frequently accompanied by enticing speech, logic, flattery, opportunity, power, influence and—always—promises of personal gain or pleasure.”

But what about the following ideas? How can I live in society today? How can I function in the world? I live in it. How can I be fruitful in the world [God expects us to be fruitful]? How can I reach those who live in this world? Wouldn’t we influence the lost better if the lost of this world loved us?

The answers to these questions will be forthcoming but the short answer is this: if you are not upholding God’s standard in your life, you may be upholding the world’s.

Without seeming prudish, here is an example that most of us can relate to. I was a child of the 50’s and I grew up watching television shows like “Leave It To Beaver,” “I Love Lucy,” and “Father Knows Best.” I realize some readers don’t go that far back in their viewing history but think for a moment how someone who only watched 50’s television would respond to 2017 offerings. Television men and women of the 50’s (who were linked romantically) were all married, not so much in today’s television. Television spouses slept in separate beds; today television portrays sexual activity that goes way beyond two married people in separate beds. Exclamatory language of the 50’s consisted of “golly,” “gee,” or maybe “heck.” Today’s television characters will express themselves using a wide variety of profanity.

I know this sounds prudish but that is not my intent. The point I am trying to make is that God has not changed His standards for behavior, we have. To put it bluntly, I can see that society has altered standards of behavior to the point that a Christian should be uncomfortable in some contexts. Bevere is not so kind in his evaluation of today’s world standards: “what’s morally acceptable and commonplace today often was uncommon and regarded as morally and socially wrong yesterday” [95].

What is so bad about the world? Why do you hear pastors teach against the world? Life provides many choices and those choices determine the Christian we will be. Many Christians don’t have a problem with one foot in the “world” and another foot in “God’s kingdom.” Maybe that is acceptable but maybe it is not. Could you be gambling with your salvation? In 1 John 2 it says “When you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.” Be careful that you are not allured into too much love for the world: “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.”

Where is the gamble?

In the words “These are not from the Father, but are from the world” [I John 2].

*author of Good or God?

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