I think the hardest person to minister to is the worldly Christian. In contrast, loving those who disagree with the Christian faith is simple because their stance is clear, marked in the sand and it provides a starting point for conversations. Ministering to those who are caught in the clutches of sin and are grasping to be free are able to be rescued because they see their need. But the worldly Christian is another matter.
The worldly Christian believes that faith is just a set of beliefs to be adhered to. That Christianity is a set of political beliefs to vote for in November. The worldly Christian has a repetitive loyalty to the religious rites of going to church, singing when the worship leader begins to play, offering tithes, and maybe even daily Scripture reading. The worldly Christian does not realize that he is paralyzed by his love for the world. The worldly Christian hears God’s call of repentance upon the world and points his finger at everyone else but does not see his own sin. The worldly Christian believes he can serve two masters.
The ancient gnostic thought that we see in 1 John is the same exact philosophy that fuels worldly Christianity today. The ancient Gnostics were all about going to church on Sunday and living in pursuit of what the world says is valuable the other six days of the week.
Today, American Christianity is built around the idea of worshipping Jesus while we chase the American dream.
We forget that we are pilgrims. That this world is not our home. That the structures that man has put in place and the fallenness of our nature is not what God intended. We forget that this world’s system is passing away and that Jesus is renewing the earth into a new kingdom. Hebrews 11, known as the Hall of Faith, talks about the pilgrims who rejected the world’s values and embraced the heavenly one. “These all did in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. As it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.” (Hebrews 11:13-14, 6).
They desired a heavenly country. These men and women recognized that the things of this world were not going to satisfy them. As C.S. Lewis once said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” The reason why we always feel like we are grasping for the next thing is because the nourishment of the world is hollow. It was never designed to fulfill our aching hearts.
When John tells us in 1 John 2:15 “Not to love the world or the things in the world, for if anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him,” he is telling us to take the perspectives of the tireless pilgrim who looks ahead to a kingdom to come. Who recognizes that all the power, glory, riches, possessions, could never fulfill the way it promises. That we serve a kingdom and King rather than our own dreams and desires.