Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Christian’s Relationship to the World (Part I): John 15:18-19

Earth

One of the primary questions that Christians find themselves asking at some point in their lives is, “What is my relationship with the world meant to look like?” It is clear that the common stance among the majority (not all) of your modern “mega churches” is that the Christian’s relationship with the world should be one that is non-offensive, politically correct, and culturally compliant. The message today is that the church must become like the world in order to reach the world. As a result, we see concerts replacing worship, pep-talks replacing preaching, and tolerance replacing Biblical truth. The question that every Christian must ask him/herself is:

Does becoming like the world really accomplish the goal of presenting the true message and purpose of Jesus Christ?

In order to answer that question, we will look at John 15:18-19. In this passage Jesus is informing His disciples of an incredibly important reality concerning their relationship with the world. Undoubtedly, Jesus wanted His disciples to be prepared for what they would receive in response to the message that He had given them concerning His salvation. Immediately, Jesus begins in verses 18-19 by saying, 18If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. There is an obvious truth in verse 19 that much of the modern church is missing today in its quest to be “culturally accepted”. That truth is found in the statement,

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own.

Who is it that the world loves as its own? Those that are OF the world. Those that fit into the world’s system and comply with it. To understand this, it is crucial that we understand what is meant by the world. First of all, Jesus said to Pilate in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from this world.” Jesus made a clear statement to Pilate that His kingdom is not bound by or operated within the world’s system. It is separate and empowered by the conquering hand of God. Why is this so?

It is because of the fact that the world and its system is in full control of Satan and is in complete rebellion against God.

Ephesians 2:1-2 tells us that we once walked in the ways of this world, controlled by the prince of the power of the air, meaning Satan himself. However, we no longer walk in rebellion, but in obedience. What does that tell us about how we as Christians will fit into this world? It tells us that we will NEVER fit this world’s system and we will not be accepted by the world’s system. Why? Because the message of Jesus Christ, if presented truthfully, is offensive to a world in rebellion against Him! That is exactly what Jesus told His disciples in John 15:1 when He said, “if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” The New American Commentary states, “Jesus modeled the standard of God and that meant his very presence in the world was a reminder to the world of its evil works and God’s resultant judgment.” [1] That is exactly why when the true message of Christ is presented, it is vehemently rejected by many. This reality can be seen in the martyrdom of Christians throughout history and it is still alive today.

We will not be accepted by the world because the world doesn’t accept our Master. Therefore, we shouldn’t strive to be accepted by the world but instead should strive to present the true message of Jesus Christ, unaltered and with conviction.

What does that mean that we should be ready for as Christians? It means that we should be ready for rejection and outright persecution. It means that we should seek God to boldly present His message, not one that the world would decide is proper. The message of Jesus Christ is a message that calls the world to give up their lives and surrender to Him as Lord and Savior (Matthew 16:24-25) and in return receive eternal life. It is a message of love, but it is also a message that confronts sin and reveals human bankruptcy. The message that the world accepts is one that grabs onto the idea of eternal life but without the sacrifice. The world wants a Jesus that offers the goods but doesn’t require devotion. When we conform to the world in our message, we are presenting Christ in that way. We as Christians must refuse to do anything but share the same message that Jesus taught His disciples. That is a message of surrender. That message is offensive, but it is the ONLY message that will truly bring the lost into relationship with Jesus.

[1] Borchert, G. L. (2002). John 12–21 (Vol. 25B, p. 154). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.


“Have I Prepared My Child for Life?”

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV

  

Think about this for a moment: If parents were to spend 30 minutes each day, 5 days a week teaching their children the Word of God beginning at age 6, those children would spend 1,560 hours with their parents in the Bible by the age of 18! That number may seem huge, but when placed in comparison to the number of hours our children spend involved in social media, sports, and academics, it is relatively small. As parents, it is so easy to focus on these seemingly important things when our kids are young. However, parents across the U.S. will be celebrating with joy and tears the graduations of their children this month and most will ask themselves the question,

“Did I prepare them for life?”

Before we can answer that question, however, it is important that we as parents understand what it truly means to prepare our children for life after leaving home. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” It is so tempting to be manipulated by our world into using their standards of preparation for the future such as academics, school involvement, and social and athletic prowess. Parents so often spend hours upon hours involving their children in activity after activity hoping for a bright and successful future for them. The statement is often made, “I want a better chance given to them than what I had.” However, using any of these preparatory measures is like building a straw house if the Word of God is not at the foundation. It does not take a very long look at our world today to see that the vast majority of the “successful” find themselves unhappy, unloved, and unstable. Why is this the case? For this very reason:

To train up a child in the way he should go is not to train up a child in the avenue of success and power but to train up a child in the way he should go is to train up that child in the Way of Life!

We as Christian parents must refuse to neglect the most important ministry that God has given us and that is the ministry to our own children. This responsibility was given to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 which says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” The magnitude of this command was not small but was meant to consume the daily lives of families throughout the nation of Israel! The commands of God were to be the first things coming from the mouths of parents to their children in the mornings, throughout their daily responsibilities, and the last things before resting at night. The New American Commentary states, “Sitting suggests inactivity; and walking, of course, activity. Together they encompass all of human effort. Likewise, to retire at night and rise up in the morning speaks of the totality of time. So important is covenant truth that it must be at the very center of all one’s labor and life.”[1] It is often the reasoning of parents that it is the responsibility of the church to instill Truth into their children. However, what a child gains from parental instruction in the Word of God grossly out measures the effect of the church. While the church is a wonderful source of spiritual growth, it is the parent that is the role model, the disciplinarian, the counselor, and the shelter for their child. We must take those responsibilities and use them wisely by instilling the Word of God in our children.

So, as we plan our schedules and prepare for the days and years ahead, we must ask ourselves the question, “Have I placed the Word of God at the forefront of my child’s life?” It will be the best question you will ever ask yourself.

[1] Merrill, E. H. (1994). Deuteronomy (Vol. 4, p. 167). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.