“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (HCSB)
God loves the world so much that He sent His Son to die for it. And yet He says that we are not to love the world (1 John 2:15) nor be conformed to it in anyway (Romans 12:2). Sounds confusing! Let’s look at this for a second. The “world” has several definitions. The “world” that God loves is the people. The “world” that we are not to love nor look like is the evil system driven by fallen man.
The world is the system of values, practices and beliefs that are independent from God. We are born into a system. that since the garden, has opposed God! Though Jesus came to redeem us, He did not redeem the system. The world operates out of the desires of the flesh and eyes, as well as the pride of life (1John 2:16). These are the same temptations that the devil threw at Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). He still throws them at us! In fact, many churches are driven by worldly guidelines and principles over God’s command to not be conformed to it!
The world says you deserve this. Go ahead and treat yourself! The world says you need more. Go ahead and consume! The world says be someone, be important, be successful, be famous and known! Go ahead and make a name for yourself. Churches that focus on entertainment and being careful not offend the congregation is operating from the world. And the way of the world is not God’s way.
As followers of Christ we are called to live in the world but not by its values (John 17:14-15). We are no longer of the world. We are sojourners, pilgrims (1 Peter 2:11), and our citizenship is not of this world (Philippians 3:20). We are called to be counter-cultural! Jesus says deny yourself, pick up the cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). We’re called to show the world another way!
God’s way is for us to be whole! God calls us to integrity. God’s way is generosity. God’s way says be humble (James 4:6&10). Humility recognizes God for who He is and us for who we are. Humility puts God above ourselves. As we do this we also put others higher and to love them over ourselves (Philippians 2:3). That’s the way of Jesus!
The absolutely most important part of us is that we are deeply loved daughters and sons of the Most High God! God’s way is by far, the best way. Btw, the world does not love you!
Ask God to show you any place where you are loving or conforming to the world. Ask Him for the grace needed to pick up your cross and follow Him daily. Ask Him to expose any trace of pride or selfish ambition lurking underneath the surface of your soul. Declare that you are not of this world, but as a child of God you are a sojourners traveling through it for God’s glory! Pray for your pastor to seek God’s ways over the world’s way regarding the way your church operates. Ask God to pour out a grace for humility over your pastor and church leadership. Cry out to God for the church across our city to look more like Him than she does of the world!