Once you begin to see that the Scriptures speak to every area of life, you also start to notice a few things. One of the most startling facts I’ve discovered is how inward the churches really are. It’s like there is a disconnect between the spiritual world and the physical. For many Christians there is the world of thoughts, emotions, family, Bible reading, prayer, and church attendance (and if you’re going to certain churches, personal holiness). Then there is the world of taxes, immigration, politics, human rights, the arts, finances, business, technology, etc.
This divide has in effect created a double-mindedness among American Christians. At times our personal views are informed by what the Bible says on things, topics such as abortion. But at others we think, feel, and act like the world around us. The crazy thing is, Christians believe that by keeping everything “about the gospel” and not getting “distracted” with earthly issues, that they are avoiding worldliness. Yet in reality, by divorcing ourselves from what God says about our surrounding world, by ignoring the issues that the Bible specifically addresses, we are destining ourselves to be worldly!
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
Worldliness isn’t about being concerned with the world around us, or even doing things that the world does (if that were the case then driving a car would be worldly). Worldliness is anywhere our thinking does not conform to the will of God (which is known by His Word). How we think leads to how we feel and act. And sadly by putting the spiritual and the physical in two separate compartment, evangelicals have become quite worldly in their thinking.
At the heart of all worldliness is a prevalent idolatry, an idolatry that has ruled since the time Adam and Eve fell. It is the religion of humanism. Humanism takes humanity and places it at the center of the universe. In this religion, all worship the god of humanity. Whether they worship the individual or the collective doesn’t matter. Happiness, feelings, and self are pursued with a fervency and devotion.
Christians, when they don’t think Biblically will easily fall into this form of idolatry. Instead of submitting their thoughts, feelings, and actions to the Word of God, they use human measurements for what is “good and pleasing and perfect.” What makes sense to them is their law. What they feel inside is their measure. What is normal for others to do is used as justification for their actions.
This evangelical humanism reveals itself in many external ways. Some buy into socialism, not seeing any contradiction between the gospel and systematic theft. Others oppose abortion only in principle, not really expecting or working to end this modern holocaust. And many are fully okay with sending their kids to be indoctrinated in public schools with the godless philosophies of our day (schools which are funded by governmental theft as well). Really it is astounding how many support unjust wars, a corrupt prison system, and the deportation and restriction of immigrants today!
While all these injustices are allowed to continue and are even supported by the churches, Christians busy themselves with “spiritual matters.” Church events, potlucks, and Bible studies (none of which are wrong in and of themselves). The closest they come to interacting with the world is to preach the gospel to them or to help the poor with food and clothing. Again, not wrong, and definitely things we need to do. But how they go about it is to either bring their church events to the world or to try and lure the world into their churches. (And the church events that they do bring don’t even proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord of all, but either as a private lord or really no lord at all.)
Before Jesus left the earth He told His disciples, “All authority in Heaven and on Earth is given to Me.” It’s easy to say Jesus is Lord of a far off realm called Heaven. It’s easy to say He is your personal Lord and Savior. You won’t experience much resistance for either one of those claims. It’s when you begin talking about Jesus being Lord of the earth that you run into hardship. In fact, it was because the prophets dealt with the injustices of their day that many of them were persecuted and killed for speaking out. The message that God gave to Jeremiah is particularly relevant to this present topic:
Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? (7:4-10)
Here we see that Jeremiah was dealing with the same type of divided thinking that we do today. The Israelites thought that by their rituals and religious services they would please God, and yet He opens to them all the charges He has against them. They oppressed the sojourner (immigration), they shed innocent blood (abortion), and they committed idolatry (humanism). They also stole (socialism), murdered (unjust wars), and committed adultery (rampant divorce and remarriage, as well as gay marriage). Notice that God mixes matters of personal right living with issues of national justice. For Him both equally matter. He is the Lord “who practices faithful love, justice, and righteousness in the earth…in these things [He] delights” (Jeremiah 9:24). We are called to know and understand Him in this way.
The Israelites hid behind two excuses in Jeremiah 7. First, they repeated three times that, “This is the temple of the Lord!” An emphatic declaration that they are God’s people and that He dwells with them. Second, they said, “We are delivered.” Oh this one hits too close to home.
“We are saved!” the churches cry. And God replies, “Saved to do what? Not so you can go on in sin and injustice, but so that you can live lives of justice and righteousness! Not so you can live for yourselves and your own happiness, but so you can live for My glory and praise. So that you can know Me.”
But the churches have made a great divide. They think that temple matters are one thing, and matters of justice are another. They don’t see that we are charged with the responsibility to be a light to the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden. We are not to “tithe mint and dill and cumin, while neglecting the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23).
Stop being conformed to the patterns of this age, brothers and sisters! Stop letting this world give you a view of what is “good and pleasing and perfect.” We are not of this world, but we have been sent into it with a message. And what is this message? “This Jesus…God has made both Lord and Messiah!” That was the message on the day of Pentecost. A message of the sovereignty, glory, power, and lordship of Jesus Christ. A message that demanded the kings of the earth to bow at the feet of the Crucified King. And this message did not pertain to only a heavenly realm, a spiritual existence after this life, it said that the new creation begins now in Christ Jesus. The curse of sin in creation is being progressively undone. The enemy already defeated and disarmed by the triumph of Jesus.
So then, let’s throw off the weight of double-mindedness that has held back the church of America. Let’s set aside the sins that so easily entangle us, and fixing our eyes on Jesus, let’s run this race! Let’s fight the good fight (through the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word). Let’s stop being a church hidden away under baskets, but instead be more than conquerors through Him who loved us!