My thoughts have been spurred on recently concerning worldliness in its varied forms. And no, they were not stirred up due to a book by a bald evangelical preacher (whom I greatly respect). Three things have contributed to my thoughts on worldliness: two from my recent reading, and one from a recent event at church.
First, I’ve been noticing the way the Gospel of John presents the cosmos… the world, especially as Christ relates to it, and how we should relate to it by nature. We see Christ coming and declaring his witness to the world (John 3), but then He didn’t pray for those in the world to be sanctified (John 17). This is a different approach than is usually presented in our churches. Christ doesn’t say the world is something to be courted; the world is to be confronted. The world is set apart from and in opposition to the church, primarily because of its rejection of Christ. In John, the world is a seemingly forthright adversary, one that will seek to kill the Christian by outright persecution. The Christian isn’t called to war in the same way, but to be a light to the darkness… a witness as Christ was.
As I read through John, I kept thinking what many have written and spoken about: why aren’t we as Christians in America being persecuted like John describes? Two possibilites come to my mind: Christians aren’t really being the light that the world reacts against, or the world has developed more subtle means of persecuting the Christian. There’s probably an aspect of truth to both Christians falling short and the world being more subtle. Whereas the first is often a given, the second is rarely explored.
Think of it this way: in our cultural milleu, the world has ceased to try to kill the our bodies (as John presents it), and instead seeks to kill our minds (as Paul presents it in Romans 12:1-2). It’s my goal to examine some of the ways this subtle persecution takes place over the next few days.