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How is a Christian to Relate to the World? – The Power of Purpose Part 3

The following excerpt is from The Power of Purpose. You can get a free copy by subscribing to the blog. If you are already subscribed you can use the contact form and I will send you one.

Timothy must have been saddened but not shocked. Paul, his father in the faith, was nearing the end of his life. Paul had invested his life in many people like Timothy with the hope that they would carry on the work. But in this last letter that Timothy received, one of those coworkers had walked away and abandoned Paul. It must have broken his heart to write, “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica,” (2 Timothy 4:10). Demas, who once had worked so hard for the gospel, had walked away. No wonder Paul had warned Timothy by word and deed about the dangers of loving the world.

Demas was not the first to wander away nor will he be the last. Jesus warned about the danger of the world to our spiritual lives. In the Parable of the Soils, he described the third soil as “those who are choked by the cares, riches, and pleasures of life and their fruit does not mature,” (Luke 8:14). Read that verse again slowly – the cares of life…. the riches of life…. and the pleasures of life … all choke out spiritual life. God has always called his people to be his treasured possession and to be different than those around them. And they have always struggled with being different.

Christians throughout the ages have declared that a follower of Jesus has three enemies to fight: the world, the flesh, and the devil. But often today, Christians go out of their way to show that they are not different from others. Parents must disciple their children to be different than the world. And to do that, we need to have a biblical view of what God has to say about the world and Christian liberty.

Love, Enjoy, or Resist?
A quick survey of Scripture reveals the word world is used in three different ways.

The Christian is to love the world. God loves the people of the world (John 3:16) and so should his followers. Scattered throughout the pages of Scriptures is the assumption that followers of Jesus will be among non-Christians seeking to show them the love of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:9-10, 9:19-23). We cannot isolate ourselves from those we are called to love! If God loves the individuals of this world, so should his people.

The Christian is to enjoy the world. God also “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment, ” (1 Timothy 6:17). “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” (1 Corinthians 10:26 quoting Psalm 24:1). A Christian can enjoy all things to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Because of common grace, we can enjoy the music, art, sports performances and books from non-Christians as ultimately gifts from God. Following Jesus does not make us anti-pleasure. Far from it! God is the author of pleasure and it points us to him. As we seek to disciple our children through the teen years, we must clearly affirm that God loves pleasure. The Christian life is not a life of drinking lemon juice!

The Christian is to resist the world. However, there is a third sense in which the Bible uses the word world. We are specifically commanded not to love this world or to be conformed to the this world (1 John 2:15, Romans 12:2). Jesus said that the world hated him and would hate us (John 15:18). Satan, in fact, rules over the fallen world (John 14:30, 16:11). James goes so far as to say that when we are friends with the world, we are committing spiritual adultery, making ourselves an enemy of God (James 4:4). As A.W. Tozer said, “A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing it is possible to accept Christ without forsaking the world.”

The more your child loves the world’s values and ideas, the more he or she will not love God. To shepherd them to love God is to shepherd them through the temptations that the world throws at them. And to do this, we need a precise understanding of this issue.

This excerpt is from The Power of Purpose. You can get a free copy by subscribing to the blog. If you are already subscribed you can use the contact form and I will send you one.

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