Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in Christianity is this. We often allow ourselves to become tainted because we “justify” what we do. Perhaps we see nothing wrong with going to the beach. I can remember Christians telling me, “oh, we are not going with any girls (or boys, if they were girls). This would take care of the “mixed swimming” problem. However, I have never known a public beach to have no one on it! I know that secular history is not scripture. However, we can sill learn how early Christians acted by reading some of them. Christians would not be seen in certain places. The locations were deemed immoral and thus were off limits. For instance, the only time you would find a Christian at the coliseum was when he was tossed to the lions. Christians did not hang out in the temples were cult prostitution could be found because they had the best steaks in town. The Christian faith has such a change on their communities that it was noticeable that people were no longer buying idols (even if they made for pretty center pieces for their dining room tables). And yet, in our society today Christianity is being swallowed up by what is deemed as “respectable worldliness.” By “respectable” worldliness I am not at all talking about the things we all are quick to point out as sin like homosexuality or adultery or the use of recreational drugs. Sure these things are deemed as worldly, but most in the Lord’s church stick recognize them for what they are; sin. But, there is also worldliness that involves things that are not wrong within themselves. This form of worldliness in American culture today is flat out devouring Christian every day. Because these things are not sinful with themselves we permit ourselves access to them. (After all if it is not sinful we technically do not need to avoid them). We enjoy these things of the world (like sports, movies, riches, etc). In time they become a larger part of our lives, for many they become the whole lives. We argue that God does not mind that we have a little fun while we live in this world. Maybe even some of the past times we engage in we could argue that God gave us (like fishing or hunting or gardening). But when we do this we fail to remember the valuable lesson taught by Christ in the parable of the sower. “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection (Luke 8:14).” We read this passage like the pleasures of this life can only be drinking, drugs, fornication, etc. But there is much more to this verse than the obvious sins. The cares of this world. The word translated care here is the same Greek word that would be translated as anxiety. In other words Christ says one of the things that chokes people out is stress. In light of our discussion here we need to realize that many of our worldly joys actually bring us stress. When we start adding the bigger house the nicer car, the newest gadgets, etc we have to find ways to pay for them. This often requires a higher paying job (or multiple incomes). This of course usually leads to more stress because you have more responsibilities. Thus “respectable” worldliness aids in choking out your faith. Riches. This is pretty self explanatory. Jesus frequently warned of desiring the riches of this world. Again, we might argue that having wealth is not wrong. After all, even Paul mentions wealthy Christians in I Tim. 6 and in order for someone to sell their properties and give to others (Acts 4-5) one has to have property to sell besides the one they live in. God realizes that wealth is not sinful, but those that desire to get wealthy pierce themselves through with many sorrows (I Tim. 6:10). And if we consider the fact that most Americans are a great deal wealthier than the average citizen of this world then this message of Christ is not just for the wealthy American, but for the every American Christian. The American dream is about the most dangerous dream any Christian can have. When we begin pursing these dreams we choke out our faith. The pleasures of this life. The pleasures of this life, watching your favorite football team, going hunting, fishing, cooking, gardening, etc. can all choke out our faith. You see, it does not choke it out all at once. These pleasures just begin supplanting God’s rightful place in your heart and life little by little. (Just like the thorns in the field of the sower). It might start off as missing Wednesday night. It could grow into missing Sunday morning bible class. It find itself choking out your daily bible studies and before too long you attend services not because of faith but because you always have and then one day you just won’t. All that was left of your faith is dead. Brethren “respectable” worldliness is only respectable in our eyes. Do not be choked out because you deceive yourself into thinking there is nothing wrong with a little pleasure.
Grinnell church of Christ
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