Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Worldliness without Electricity

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 20, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Just over a year ago I was involved in training a group of poor and persecuted pastors somewhere in the Far East.  My assignment was to go through the historical books of the Old Testament.  Part of my teaching led us through the life of Samson.  I have preached several times on the life of Samson here in America.  My focus has been on Samson conformity to the culture rather than his resistance to it.  How the children of Israel has been surrounded by Philistine culture for forty years and had stop asking for deliverance.  They had imbibed it, accepted it, were participating in it.  Now, I thought to myself these messages will not be very relevant to these poorer men living in a country where they are persecuted.  Surely they will not wrestle with the love of the world like Americans do in their prosperity.  They probably don’t have televisions, don’t go to movies, don’t listen to rock, they go to dances, they don’t dress immodestly, etc.   But the response of these men to the warnings about worldliness was intense.  You must preach this to the churches here!  And so I did.  The response again was somewhat electrifying.  People who heard began to get on their cell phones and re-preach the message to those who had missed it.   How could this be?  And then it hit me (I’m fairly slow).  When John wrote not to love the world or the things in the world, he was writing to a people who lived in rather primitive conditions.   They had no MP3 players.  They had never seen a movie, never watched anything on television, they did not read salacious magazines.  When James warned that friendship with the world was enmity against God, he did not have Britney, Paris, or Lindsay in mind.  Their warnings were given to people without electricity.  I realized then that my understanding of what it means to love the world must be able to be preached in the midst of Somalia or Ethiopia.  The issues of pride and lust and coveting and having our hearts and minds set upon the things of this world are as relevant to an Amish farmer as they are to the Hollywood starlet.  In his book, The Distinguishing Traits of Christian Character, Pastor Gardiner Spring writes of the people of this world, “Their thoughts and their affections are chained down to the things of time and sense.  And in these they seem to be irrecoverably immersed. They seldom think but they think of the world; they seldom converse but they converse of the world.  The world is the cause of their perplexity and the source of their enjoyment.”   You see, it is possible to live on a commune separate from “the world” and yet be immersed in it.  If our hopes and joys are surrounded with those things that death can take away, that thieves can steal, that moth and rust can eat, then are we not conformed to this world?  The farmer who lives for his show cow, the woman whose pride is in her well ordered home, the native on the plain who boasts in his hunting is just as much a worldling as the seductively dressed teen drinking in pop culture.  The issue of worldliness is not in the things themselves, but in the heart that finds its ultimate joys and hopes in them.

James Savastio
Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville
  1. Jim,

    Good word. It’s so easy to equate freedom from worldliness with the maintenance of our list of “don’t s” or a cloister mentality when in fact it’s fundamentally a heart-issue that may characterize the most fastidious Pharisee as well as the libertine. May the Lord grant us all the grace to keep our highest affections where they need to be … at the foot of the cross.

    Gratefully,
    Bob Gonzales

  2. Well said.

    “Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
    Look full in His wonderful face,
    And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
    In the light of His glory and grace.”

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