1 John 2:15 states: “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.” We must understand that the writer is not speaking about planet Earth with its immense beauty! This we are to enjoy and praise the One who created this fantastic planet with its mountains, waterfalls, lakes, streams and more. “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters” (Psalm 24:1-2).
When the Apostle Paul admonishes the Romans and us not to conform to the pattern of this world another translator puts it this way: “Don’t copy the behaviors and customs of this world”; “do not let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould!” (Romans 12:2 NLT, Phillips).
In which way should we not conform to the pattern of this world? The worldly minded have to eat, sleep and work to make a living, and so do spiritually minded people. How should followers of Jesus Christ differ from them?
1. In our attitude
The world is materialistic, but we as followers of Christ must be different. 1 Timothy 6:6 states: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” The advertising industry is constantly trying to make us dissatisfied with what we have in order to sell us something newer and better!
If we could only learn to be content with what we have we would not be so vulnerable for the many “get rich quick” schemes that many an unwary soul has succumbed to. “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:9-12)
2. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (see Philippians 2:5)
Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28). Not like a sign I read “Be humble and proud of it!” There are many examples of pride in the world of politics and sport: “I’m the best,” “I’m the greatest!” “I’m Number ONE!!”
3. In our speech
In Ephesians 5:3-5, Paul states: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a person is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
4. In the way we dress
Let us not choose our styles from the Hollywood models, but let’s follow the admonition in God’s Word: “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety” (1 Timothy 2:9). Not in a sexual fashion to call out men’s lust and cause them to sin! “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
5. In our attitude toward the future
The world is often suffering nervous collapse due to worry. Christ followers are to be an exception and an example for the world! “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:31-34). Philippians 4:6 also tells us “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
6. In our attitude toward grief & loss
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Let’s never forget that “This world is not my home; I’m just passing through!”
Art E. Lange
Vernon, British Columbia