Regarding the World as Rubbish

As Christians in a wealthy and materialistic nation, there lies a daunting task in front of us–to regard as rubbish that which we are taught to love. This task is daunting for several reasons, and any one of them alone can bind us as easily as the several combined.

The first reason our task daunting is that we, even as Christians, possess a flesh that is yet not glorified and that presently and on its own accord desires the things of the world. These desires of the flesh might vary in degree and manifestation from person to person, but they are all of one fleshly root. These desires manifest themselves presently in the love of shiny cars, new technology, large houses, inappropriate lusts, etc., and they all lie in wait to strangle out of us any desire for Christ that the Spirit has put into us.

Secondly, those who are of the world encourage us to gratify of our fleshly desires. Worldly people use their philosophies to justify their own the fleshly pursuits and, to appease their own consciences, operate just as those whom the prophet condemns: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20). With their consciences cleaned by their fantastic moralities, those who are worldly seek then to excite our fleshly longings with advertisements, filthy television shows, etc., and thereby demonstrate the Apostle’s observation, “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).

Thirdly, we are flooded with false doctrine concerning wealth and possessions from those within the church. These false doctrines are not limited to the obvious health and wealth preachers like Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar, but it applies to many who quietly embrace the world and its treasures. These teachers are arguably more treacherous than the Joel Osteens of the world because their teachings are so close to the truth that it ensnares many who would be orthodox. These teachers tell us that it is okay to have many possessions just as long as we make Christ number one in our life. Others preach that God only requires ten percent of that which he gives us and that God will bless us richly if we faithful with that ten percent.1

All around us are these snares that attempt to trap us into loving the world or, very likely, that have already trapped us into loving the world. You might be the one who finds himself already trapped by his love for the world, and you know this and are seeking to rid yourself of it but do not know how. Hopefully, I will be able offer some suggestions that will get you heading in the right direction.

Cultivate a Satisfaction for Christ Alone
There is much in the phrase, “Make Christ your number one,” that seems like sound advice. The problem with it is that we are not called to make Christ number one on a our lists, but we are called to make Christ our all. In other words, Christ is not to be the highest percentage of our affections, but he is supposed to be one hundred percent of our affections. When Christ calls us to take up our crosses daily, this is precisely what he means.

What you must ask yourself then is, “Do I live my life in such a way so that in everything that I do, I do it so that I might enjoy and desire Christ more?” This is a radical question to ask yourself, and it will change how you live every moment of your life. Instead of asking yourself, for example, “What music can I listen to that is family friendly or that does not use curse words?” ask yourself, “What music can I listen to that will make me adore Christ more and bring me to worship him?” Imagine the CDs (including some “Christian” CDs) that would be thrown out from our music collections if we asked that question! What if you instead of asking, “What house can we afford to buy?” you asked, “What house can I buy (or build) that will cause me to desire Christ over my house and will bring glory to his name?” If you ask that, I guarantee you that you will not be buying a $250,000 house any time soon.

If you are struggling with the love of the world, you need desperately to rid yourself of the taste for its pleasures. The Apostle John writes these sobering words in his first letter:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world (1John 2:15, 16).

Categories: Theology

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2 replies

  1. To clarify, there are 2 kinds of giving to God:

    1. sacrificial. This is the most extreme way of giving, one in which we expect no earthly benefit ourselves–one in which someone else, whether God alone or a person, is the receiver of the blessing. Tithing is an example. Selling possessions to have money to give to the Church or to the poor is another. Either way, the giver loses (temporarily) out of love for God and / or a person (though gaining eternal reward and possibly earthly reward as well, making the overall effect a gain, not a loss).

    2. stewardshippal, which is a word I made up. This is using what God has given us in order to benefit Him. E.g., I do not give my bass guitar, nor do I plan on selling it to give $ to the poor, but rather I try to use it to please God in a collaborative effort with whatever praise band I am with. The ultimate purpose of the bass is _not_ my pleasure, but God's.

    A prerequisite or corequisite to stewardshippal giving (a "living sacrifice" of sorts) is willingness to sacrifice if that is most pleasing to God. I think we Americans often fail here because we hypothetically will sacrifice if God writes a sign in the sky, but we are unwilling to volunteer a gift to God if we genuinely reason that it would be most pleasing to Him, based on our knowledge in light of Scriptural principles. E.g., we justify owning excessively expensive houses because God has not specifically "laid it on our hearts" to live more cost-efficiently in order to give the poor more. Yet, Scripture tells us to love God with _all_ our strength (including material resources, I think), and to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that love for God implies love for our neighbors (1John). Hence, we should deduce that we should try to live cost-efficient lifestyles to save more money to selflessly bless our neighbors.

    Of course, the implications here are huge, and not always immediately obvious–much study and discussion regarding what is and is not efficient can result. E.g. a smaller apartment -> more time spent cleaning -> less time to make $ -> less to give those in need. Space is more than a shallow convenience. Along those same lines, not everyone's time is equal from a purely economic perspective, so those who make and give more $ can (I think) have more time-saving conveniences than those with fewer skills, who make and give less $. But $ is not the only resource or worth that people have, so many other considerations will result. Honest, unbiased calculations and estimations are (imho) a large part of trying love God with all our strength and our neighbors as ourselves. An illustration of this exists in… that one movie… You know, that one where a group survives a plane wreck in the Gobi desert, so they try to build the airplane back up using leftover parts. Although they have limited, unrenewable resources, the buisness analyst in the group says they should burn fuel at night so they can work in cooler weather but be able to see. They play loud music to boost morale. They eat and drink enough to continue the work. All of these (calculated) expendetures help them to build the aircraft before they run out of resources, though they are using resources faster. But I digress.

    As we give things to God stewardshippally (i.e. use them to please Him), we often will (and should) enjoy blessings from God! Just as we want those whom we love to receive and benefit from and enjoy our love for them, so should we accept God's blessings on us. As I try to please God with participation in a praise band, I benefit tremendously as I explore music, an amazing blessing God has given us, a subject no mere human can understand fully nor study exhaustively.

    The terms I gave above (sacrificial and stewardshippal giving) are not perfect, nor do they necessarily line up with Scripture. For example, the phrase "living sacrifices" in Romans 12 is actually describing a combination of both kinds of giving via an (intentional) oxymoron… but that is another complex subject.

    Sorry to blog in your blog.


  2. Lol. I look forward to carefully reading your blog post after I get off of work.=P


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