Saturday, May 26, 2007

WORLDLINESS: What is it--really?

The world. If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard messages on this topic time and again. It’s definitely a thing to be rooted out completely from the Christian’s life. We don’t want worldly influences in our lives—whether that be from movies, music, entertainment--you name it. First John 2 tells us that the world is made up of the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” which are not of the Father, but are of the world. I would contend that anything which fits those categories, then, is worldly.

What appeals to my flesh? Easy it is to categorize carnal amusements and pleasures—the stuff many a sermon receives “Amens” to. Against Hollywood, against gambling, against drinking, against carnal TV programs. And I agree. We should be against these wicked ways in which the devil, who is the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” seeks to tempt man. But what about other areas of the flesh? Does the flesh have dominion over me in any way? What about those sins of "ommission"? In the parable of the sower, Christ tells us that the third ground was choked by the cares of this world. Mark 4:19 reads, “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”

This verse generates these questions in my mind: Do I continually love to spend time in reading God’s Word and prayer? Am I consistent in doing so? Is my life characterized by constantly drawing upon God’s power to do what is right—not just to think it but actually to live it out and do it? Worldliness is not only getting the world out in a physical sense—having the right dress standards, listening to God-honoring music, keeping oneself pure before marriage—but worldliness is aggressively ridding myself of any “care” of the world.

Am I anxious? Worried? Fretful? Then I am being worldly, for I have let the cares of this world enter in and choke the Word of God from bearing the fruit God desires me to bear. Am I angry? Uptight? Sensitive? Those actions, too, are of the world. What about my thought life? Do I dwell on my own dreams and exciting goals (good though they may be) but fail to spend time meditating on God's unchanging Word? Have I ever allowed work to become utmost priority, thus being entrapped by the deceitfulness of riches? If so, I am worldly.

What of those “lusts of other things” mentioned in the Mark passage? For example, do I desire to have or be the “best” in some area? If my pursuit of this "best" is not God’s best for me, then once again, I am being worldly. And this, friends, is only a slight catalog of lusts of the flesh (not to mention the lust of the eyes or the pride of life)!

As I prepare for my upcoming wedding--now less than six days away--I have been tempted to let the things of the world distract me, to fail to spend enough time with the Lord—time I desperately need to draw from His strength and become more like my precious Savior Who died for me. My loving fiancĂ© last night gently reminded me, “Heather, don’t be like the third type of soil in the parable of the sower. Don’t let the cares of the world distract you from the most important Object of your affection.”

The Lord used those words, kindly uttered and free from any part of the flesh, to awaken my spirit to my true condition. How I praise God for directing my focus back to the lasting stuff of eternity!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

You’re Invited

The embossed open Bible and lavender flowers were carefully selected. The font was precisely the script I had hoped for; the wording, exactly as I had planned. Now as I sat engulfed by stacks of wedding invitations, I felt the mammoth task of addressing envelopes eased by encouraging thoughts of the upcoming day. Names from days gone by, friends I’d had in Bible college, memories of other times—these came flooding back to me as I addressed envelopes first to relatives, then to long-time family friends, then to personal friends acquired over the years.

After several evenings of locating addresses and formatting my computer-generated envelopes, I had at last reached the very last card. What a huge project! I’d never guessed that inviting people to the wedding would take so long. But without the invitations, who would know? Who would show up?

As I congratulated myself on reaching the end of this part of my wedding preparation, another thought cascaded to my mind: this isn’t the only wedding I’m responsible for inviting people to.

No, in a short time, another wonderful wedding feast will be held, and people the world over are invited. Literally anyone can attend—for invitations have been extended by the Father of the Groom. There is merely one stipulation: any individual in attendance must be wearing a wedding garment. That wedding garment is free to him—certainly it is priceless and precious, bought with blood, in fact—but these pure robes of righteousness are without charge to all who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Many will attend this delightful banquet, celebrating bride and Bridegroom; but first, these must be invited.

How much effort am I putting into those invitations? Am I seeking out, in every neighborhood, long-forgotten souls who need to hear of this special event? Am I recalling everyone—even those who seem to spitefully treat the Bridegroom—and inviting them to this most wonderful wedding ever? “Go ye into all the world” is the Father’s command; He desires all to be in attendance at the gala event. Am I careful to present His invitation in a way that clearly explains how to get to this feast and illustrates the precious sacrifice of the Groom?

The invitations can be verbal or written; but they must carefully reflect the eternal truths presented in the Word of God. May I keep in mind this up-coming celebration and be as devoted to inviting people to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as I have been in formatting and sending out invitations to my own upcoming wedding!