Whether it is music, movies, possessions, glamorous lifestyles, etc…, why is it that the world has so many things we find inviting, but when the world looks at us, what do they find inviting about Christianity–sadly, not that much!
We Are Taught To Chase Our Dreams, But Do We Have The Right Ones
Have you ever asked Christians what their goals in life are?
You probably do not want to, as the answers that typically come back have nothing to do with drawing closer to God or increasingly loving those around them–the answers mostly revolve around attaining happiness according to the standards of the world
Is this really that shocking though
Within our culture, materialism is a vicious snare for both Christians and non-Christians, and is an integral part of the American dream
Even in fairy tales we are told from a young age being successful involves achieving worldly happiness through wealth, beauty, relationships, careers, possessions, etc…
We see this in stories where knights rescue all those princesses who cannot seem to stay out of trouble, genies who grant wishes and break out into show tunes, downtrodden step-sisters who are so pretty and graceful it elevates them out of their social status, and so on
(I am not taking a swipe at Disney, those stories existed hundreds of years before they made movies out of them! Although, the original characters did not have so much vocal talent)
When we get older, we experience the world’s constant encouragement for us to chase our dreams, but the dreams they put in front of us are generally self-oriented, and rarely revolve around helping others or making sacrifices so the less fortunate can be taken care of
I mean, can you imagine a fairy tale where Prince Charming sells everything he has, then shows up at Cinderella’s doorstep asking her to come serve the poor in a foreign country for the rest of their lives?
No, the dreams the world wants us to chase after revolve around what we wear, what we eat, the houses we live in, how attractive and wealthy our partners are, our careers, how much money we have, our physical appearance, etc…
In the eyes of the world, attaining these things is more important than anything, and these are generally all that people aspire to, which is incredibly sad
However, not only did Jesus tell us these things were unimportant, he said they were capable of robbing us of our salvation if we are overcome by them or treat them as idols that separate us from God, preventing our growth
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well
Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown
What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
When we look at how Jesus taught us to seek righteousness, and God’s kingdom before chasing after worldly success, it is no wonder the world does not find Christianity appealing in comparison, as the world teaches people to chase after their self-oriented dreams, and pursue whatever they desire–judging by the way most Christians live for worldly happiness, they find the world’s definition of success more appealing than Christianity’s
When Is The Last Time We Analyzed The Amount Of Time We Spend Chasing The World Versus Chasing God
Have you ever thought about how much time we spend working, going to school, entertaining ourselves online, watching movies, playing video games, etc…, versus how much time we spend reading the Bible, praying, serving others less fortunate, and all the other things we know we are supposed to be doing to demonstrate God’s love but do not?
Almost without fail, the ratio of time we spend on worldly things versus seeking God is outrageously imbalanced, especially when it comes to entertaining ourselves during our free time
But why is this?
How is it that such a large group of people who claim to be in a relationship with the creator of the universe, who is love and power itself, do almost nothing to seek or honor him in a way that makes the world view Christianity as something they want to know more about?
The honest truth?
Many Christians do not consider their relationship with God, or sharing it with others, to be more important than pursuing the world around them, preferring instead, to fill up on earthly pleasures and distractions, which removes their hunger for God, leaving little or no room in their lives for spiritual fulfillment or life-changing growth
He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet
Living a worldly lifestyle is the worst witness imaginable, as it shows the world there is no real change in someone’s life when they come to know God beyond adding some items to their social calendar, and making some new, “dorkier” friends
Even when we go to church, attend Bible studies, and have all the appearances of being good Christians, when the world is our number one priority, we are falling short of the relationship, and calling, God set before us, exchanging our eternal, glorious reward in heaven for things that have absolutely no value
What Could Possibly Cause Us To Reject Our Heavenly Reward In Favor Of Worldly Fulfillment
I know America is terrible at saving money, as we have become experts at sacrificing long-term stability for short-term gratification, but the most common reasons Christians reject eternal life in favor of fleeting, worldly happiness are:
- We do not sincerely believe in heaven enough to chase after it
- We think we will receive a heavenly reward no matter what we do
- We value the world more than our relationship with God
All of these attitudes are awful, as they do not reflect anything that would inspire someone looking into Christianity to say: Yes, I want that!
A vibrant relationship with God should cause a billionaire to look at a poor person and think they are missing out on something their money could never buy, inspiring them to leave everything behind in order to attain it
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it
This is not exactly the most common approach we take to our salvation is it
If You Check Your Work Schedule And Have No Hours That Week, Would You Be Worried
To take this point even further, despite all the feel-good messages that get thrown at us, when we become Christians but keep looking back at the life we led, or still lead, Jesus said doing this makes us unfit for service in God’s kingdom
No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God
I looked up the word “fit” in Greek, and it means “fit, useful”
Based on this, we see Jesus was saying that even if we set out to do God’s work, but do not have our heart fully set on him because we are distracted by the world, we are not “fit or useful” in our service to further his kingdom as we are not accurately living the gospel
This is an important point, as it is very destructive to lead someone to God under the wrong pretenses or by teaching false doctrine that keeps them from becoming mature, as we should represent the gospel as a life-changing experience, one that involves obedience, and a true change of heart, which does not involve holding onto our old life while still claiming to be a member of the kingdom as if nothing was wrong
Neither Jesus or the Apostles ever set this kind of “have your cake and eat it too” example for us!
It was completely the opposite, as they lived righteous, holy lives for us to follow after as a testimony to God’s power, but also as a reflection of their respect for God himself
Jesus clearly said he will reject us if we are lukewarm, and that if we are not among those who gather, we are damaging the growth of the gospel by misrepresenting it
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth
He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters
1 John 2:3-6
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did
This sounds harsh, but the reality behind this statement is even harsher: there are more lukewarm Christians than those who passionately love God, which is not exactly a new problem
I mean honestly, it is not like Jesus ever had a shortage of pew warming Christians who wear the badge but do not truly seek him or make sacrifices to share God’s love
Jesus does not need more lukewarm Christians professing their appreciation for him on Sunday only to ignore him the rest of the week while they seek worldly fulfillment, which is why representing the true gospel is so important
It is no mystery Jesus commanded us to love God with all our heart, and love our neighbors as ourselves, but how many Christians actually put this in practice?
Can you imagine if they did, the world would be turned upside down overnight!
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’
The sad thing is, many Christians are happy just filling a pew, living a life that feels comfortable, with the appearance of being godly, feeling confident they lead good lives, but there is no true love for God or others in their hearts–this lifestyle not only misrepresents the gospel, but God’s very being, since he is love itself, and loved creation so much he was willing to lay his life down for it–God’s love for creation is what the gospel is all about!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life
(In the Greek, “world” means “mankind, the aggregate sum of all creation”, which really puts a different spin on this verse, but that is a separate conversation)
1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ
When we fall into the enemy’s feel-good, but deadly, trap where Christians justify their worldly lifestyles by saying “I am in the world, but not of it”, it is no surprise the world looks at Christianity with disinterest, as there is nothing appealing, unique or valuable in it
The deadliest part of this world chasing equation, is how people think their lives are okay because they are not committing what they see as big sins, but they are guilty of not putting God first, as worldly happiness is more important to them than honoring God or loving others–which is still a sin!
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ
How Do We Show People That Christianity Is Worth Denying The World Over
This question, thankfully, has the simplest answer: love God, and love others in the same manner Jesus loved us as a demonstration of God’s transforming power
Once we live this way, the world will have zero draw for us, we just have to keep the right perspective, always reminding ourselves that God himself laid his life down for us, out of love, then commanded us to do the same for one another–loving one another is not an option!
My *command* is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends *if* you do what I command
(That is one big “if”, as he commanded us to love others in the same, selfless way as he loved us–this is how we should constantly seek to demonstrate God’s love to the world, otherwise we have not grown to understand or know him in a life-changing way)
1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things
However, after reading all this, if you still enjoy warming the pew, and seeking after worldly pleasures rather than eternal riches, go nuts, just know everything you do will be brought into judgment–have fun with that!
Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account