Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm not a slow reader, I'm a ponderer.

About a month ago I started reading this book. It’s a short read, but it’s taken a while...and not because I’m a slow reader. I’m the type of person who can’t move on from something until I fully grasp it. So I’ve been pondering...thinking about this book (which at this point is really just the first chapter) and what the author is communicating. What is this saying to me? Why has it taken me a month to get through the first twenty pages?

The book is called Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. Now, “worldliness” is not a new word for me. I didn’t need to go to my favorite website ( to figure this one out. The author (C.J. Mahaney) went straight to 1 John 2:15, which reads, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” He went here to describe the concept of worldliness.

I’ve read this verse before, so I’ll save my detailed journey of self-discovery that happened for me at this time and get straight to the point. When I think about my heart and the concept of “loving the world,” I would definitely not categorize myself as a worldly person. I would say that falling in love with the things of this world is not really a struggle for me. But when I read more into this chapter, I realized that the “world” we are not to love is not the same world I was thinking about. As Mahaney explained it, “The world we’re not to love is the organized system of human civilization that is actively hostile to God and alienated from God.”

*deep breath*

hmm. My world just came full-circle. In my last blog, I wrote about being different...from the world; staying away from the sin that brings on God’s wrath; not living like everyone this world. And the lightbulb comes on. So I may not be in love with this world...but I am so much like it. Does that make me worldly? Absolutely.

I think back to the example I used in my last post: being different in college. I was living with and among people who loved this world. I saw worldliness in class, in the dorms, at football games. Being surrounded by the world, it was easy to be different from the world. And now I’m in full-time ministry. I love what I do. I work with an amazing staff in an amazing facility with a church who loves God and seeks to bring Him glory. I couldn’t ask for anything better. But in these past few weeks as I’ve been pondering the first twenty pages of this book, I’ve noticed something about me that has changed. I have become this world I live in.

When I pray through Psalm 139:23-24, I see the world in me.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
My heart, my attitude, my thoughts...can be so much like this world. So I find myself in this fascinating dichotomy: when I am in the world it is easy for me to be different; when I am not in the world (and within the safe walls of my church), I become more like it. So...

I cling to His Word. It’s the only tangible thing I have in this world to keep me safe from it.
I draw near to my Father. He is my protector and my Savior and will guide my days.
I stay aware of the world outside these doors... so that I can remain far from it and my heart may be pure.

Worldliness. It’s not possessions or careers or social structures. It’s our attitude toward the God of this universe, our Creator, our Lover. It’s living a life that emphasizes who we are versus who He is. It’s living and thinking and acting like the people who love self instead of living and thinking and acting to bring Him glory.

Worldliness. My heart...can be summed up in a song by Vicky Beeching:
Search me Oh God
Search me and find
Any way in me that does not reflect Your purity
Refine me Oh God
In the fire of Your gaze
That I might be holy in all of my ways
Take me deeper Lord
Draw me closer Lord…

Give me a heart after Your own heart
Give me a mind that is pure and pleasing to You
Fill me with love
With Your power and Your joy
That this world might see You in me