Just winging this one with no preplanning…
First, dear reader, please click on the link above and consider what challenges this brief article by J.C. Ryle presents to you. See if it upsets your comfort zone!
What comes to mind first of all? What’s your definition of “worldliness”?
I’m struck by a couple of things that have emerged in my spiritual explorations recently. I’ve been pondering the nature of what the “kingdom” is scripturally, so this morning I was drawn to my very old copy of Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God and Peace Essays. Apparently it’s time to review it again. It certainly brought some new insights and ways of reviewing my own stance on things, and unearthing something that I did not perceive before as “worldliness”.
To answer the question posed above, I’d have to conclude – based also upon standard responses as to how “worldliness” is viewed – that it traditionally consists in quite a lot of moralizing along the lines of the 10 Commandments.
I’ve had to conclude that most of us would say that worldliness is something somebody else is doing that I’m not doing.
However, what if we dare to go deeper, in light of Luke 6:27-36 – that part of Jesus’ teaching often disregarded because it is too “radical”? Might worldliness look like the opposite of this?
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
As I continued reading Tolstoy’s book, and in light of the J. C. Ryle article, combined with the teaching of Jesus on the subject of non- reaction, it became clear to me that there seems to be a great deal of difference between what Christ is really getting across here, and the worldliness of being a “reactionary” on any level.
So to answer the question, according to Jesus’ directives here, worldliness could be defined as being a reactionary living life in an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth mode.
Where am I with this? I must ask this, and then examine myself to see if I am actually in THE faith of Christ Jesus. What is to be my response? How deep and on how many levels does this need to be addressed?
It’s become so easy and so “intoxicating” to become fascinated with world events and the machinations of politics these days. All the drama can easily draw a person into its perpetual conflicts! All one has to do is look at social media to see the extent at which we’re all encouraged to join the party, if you’ll pardon the pun – no matter which party the conflict represents. It’s all conflict and reaction!
There’s plenty of criticism coming from those who do not have ears to hear what Jesus invites us to – His kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit – as He asks us to come out of the world and be separate, and to be as radically merciful as He is merciful.
Jesus challenges Christians with a question, and it must be honestly addressed, “Why do you call Me Lord, but do not do what I say?”