20 May 2009

Make A Difference By Being Different


(Amazon's image)

I am reading a book that was just published called Unfashionable; Making a Difference in the World By Being Different by Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham's grandson. Here are some great words to ponder from the book (emphasis mine):

John 3:16 tells us that God the Father loves the world so much that he sent God the Son to fix it. But we're told in I John 2:15-17 not to love the world, and James tells us that "a friend of the world" is "an enemy of God" (James 4:4)...

What's going on? Is the world good or bad? Are we to love it or hate it? Enter it or exit it?

The answer: it all depends on which sense of the word world you mean.

As scholars point out, the word world has three basic meanings in the Bible. It can refer to (1) the created order, (2) the human community, and (3) the sinful ways of humanity, or cultural godlessness. It's this third meaning, for instance, that Paul identifies when he tells us, "Do not be conformed to [the patterns of] this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Romans 12:2). He's not telling us to avoid the created order or other human beings. It's actually worldliness that Paul is warning against...

Worldliness...is characterized in the Bible as the sinful misdirection of God's good creation. It means adopting the ways, habits, thoughts, patterns, practices, spirit, and tastes of this world in spite of how far they take us from God's will and design. We become conformed to the patterns of this world when the ways we think and live fit nicely with how this fallen, misdirected world thinks and lives. Worldliness is what makes the world's ways seem normal and God's ways seem strange...

A worldly way of thinking is any mindset that, unconsciously or consciously, eliminates God and his revealed truth (the Bible) from how we approach life. The biblical notion of worldliness is a sleepiness of the soul in which the status, pleasure, comforts, and cares of the world appear solid, stunning, and affecting while the truths of Scripture become abstractions ~ unable to grip the heart or guide our everyday activities. Worldliness, according to Iain Murray [in his book Evangelicalism Divided], "is departing from God. It is a man-centered way of thinking... It judges the importance of things by the present and material results. It weighs success by numbers. It covets human esteem, and it wants no unpopularity. It knows no truth for which it is worth suffering. it declines to be a fool for Christ's sake."

To be a worldly person is, in fact, to be a "practical" or "functional" atheist. It's someone who ~ despite all he professes ~ lives and makes daily decisions as if God doesn't exist... For him, cultural assumptions and societal trends serve as the directing influences for how he thinks, feels and lives."

Good words to chew on.

Good questions to consider:
  1. How can I, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, be culturally aware, but not culturally conformistic? (I think I just invented a word!) How can I engage my culture in a relevant way without being squeezed into its mold? (And does the church now have a conformist formula for "being relevant" in evangelism? Once you've seen one Youth Minister with a goatee and way cool glasses, wearing jeans with flip flops, you've seen them all.)
  2. How am I being too fashionable? How have I deceived myself and fallen victim to contemporaneity?
How about you?

To see the author discuss his book, click here for a video that is less then three minutes.

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