March 18, 2015
“Friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God” James 4:4
Mark decided to visit a new church this Sunday. He knew it was time to re-establish Christian contacts, perhaps make genuine friends and participate in Christ-focused groups again. He missed the fellowship and encouragement that gathering with like-minded believers brought.
As he milled with the people in the lobby he witnessed an interesting sight, an incredible number of men who looked alike. It was as if someone had placed an ad in the paper, asking for men who shaved their heads, had heavy stubble beards, and wore jeans with T-shirts untucked to meet at this service. One allowable exception: dress shirts, also untucked. It was surreal.
Another important aspect of the gathering was the coffee center lined with pump pots, various creamers, sweeteners, and pastries (Lord take these calories away) and a selection of herbal teas.
Standing near the door to the sanctuary, Mark overheard one of the young men who was the song leader exclaim to some friends, “Are you ready to rock out?” as he moved to the doorway.
And rock out they did. Once people were assembled inside the church, the stage was filled with more similar-looking men and one woman with guitars slung across their bodies, sitting at a drum set or standing at a keyboard. The leader loudly proclaimed to the audience, “Are you ready to praise the Lord? Then let’s rock-out for Jesus!”
Suddenly Mark was taken back to his youth, reminded of various non-Christian music concerts he’d attended. The music volume was high, the tempo was upbeat, lyrics moved across a large screen that dropped from the ceiling, which encouraged the congregation to move about, clapping hands, singing words which may not have all been Biblically accurate, asking God for blessings and His presence to fill the place.
All the while, the “entertainers”, resembling rock stars, threw themselves into the songs, spinning, dancing, lunging and taking turns with carefully choreographed instrumental solos. Mark’s recollection of former rock concerts was very strong at this point. Rather than being drawn to the Lord, he was experiencing very worldly feelings as song after song was “performed” in this manner.
Was this the Church, the Body of Christ, or the World, offering a pale imitation of God’s people, assembled to sing praises to His name? Why would so many members of the true Church go to such lengths to imitate the world in appearance, attitude and musical presentation? It was clear that the flesh was being fed, not the Spirit.
James 4:4-10 You are like unfaithful wives, flirting with the glamour of this world, and never realizing that to be the world’s lover means becoming the enemy of God! Anyone who deliberately chooses to love the world is thereby making himself God’s enemy. Do you think what the scriptures have to say about this is a mere formality? Or do you imagine that this spirit of passionate jealousy is the Spirit he has caused to live in us? No, he gives us grace potent enough to meet this and every other evil spirit, if we are humble enough to receive it. That is why he says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’
Be humble then before God. but resist the devil and you’ll find he’ll run away from you.
Come close to God and he will come close to you. Realize that you have sinned and get your hands clean again. Realize that you have been disloyal and get your hearts made true once more. As you come close to God you should be deeply sorry, you should be grieved, you should even be in tears. Your laughter will have to become mourning, your high spirits will have to become heartfelt dejection. You will have to feel very small in the sight of God before he will set you on your feet once more.
1 John 2:15-17 Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time. For the whole world-system, based as it is on men’s primitive desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God’s will is part of the permanent and cannot die.
John 15:18-22 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.”
1 Peter 2:11-12 Dear brothers, you are only visitors here. Since your real home is in heaven, I beg you to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world; they are not for you, for they fight against your very souls.
Be careful how you behave among your unsaved neighbors; for then, even if they are suspicious of you and talk against you, they will end up praising God for your good works when Christ returns.
Mark realized that Joshua proclaimed what should be the guideline of our lives: “Choose this day who you will serve. . .As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15