Monday, October 19, 2009

Respectable Sins - Worldliness (Ch 20)

Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges

Chapter 20 - Worldliness

Bridges uses two bible passages to help define our idea of worldliness:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)

... those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. (1 Cor 7:31)
So Bridges goes on to give his definition of worldliness:
being attached to, engrossed in, or preoccupied with the things of this temporal life ... worldliness means accepting the values, mores, and practices of the nice but unbelieving, society around us without discerning whether or not those values, mores, and practices are biblical. (p166)
Bridges turns his attention to 3 main areas:

1. Money - pointing to the increasing lack of generosity among Christians, as well as the desire to buy houses, clothing and accessories with the same abandon as the average unbeliever - Bridges asks the pointed question of whether we are 1. stingy and 2. too attracted too the things of this world? He ponders whether a return to the concept of tithing would at least help in this. Reflecting on Paul words to the Corinthians:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)
The way we choose to use our money is a reflection of how much we truly value Jesus' gift of his life to us.

2. Immorality - how do we tolerate immorality? Bridges looks at two ways. Firstly, by vicarious immorality:
Do we secretly enjoy reading about the immorality of other people whose sexual misconduct is reported in our newspapers and weekly news magazines?...If we go to movies or watch television programs knowing that sexually explicit sins will be shown or read novels knowing that such scenes will be described, we are engaging in vicarious immorality.
This is a very helpful point. Most shows on TV these days are such rubbish , they hardly need to take up the small amounts of free time that we do have.

Secondly, the area of immodest dress. Women can be careful not to try to attract the eyes of men in lustful ways, and men need to be careful not to look. Like Bridges, I am astonished at what some women, including Christian women wear - and what they obviously believe is appropriate. (I will look at this again soon in the coming month, when I turn to the next book on my list...)

3. Idolatry - things such as our career, political and cultural issues, or sport. The political and cultural issues made me think a bit - while there are certainly some of these issues that we want to uphold (eg. preservation of life), what about environmentalism? Do we sometimes let other agendas take primacy over the gospel? And what about sport - how many people choose to miss church on grand final weekend (for eg)?

So, says Bridges?
How, then, can we deal with our tendencies towards worldliness? It is not by determining that will not be worldly but by committing ourselves to becoming more godly. We need to grow in our relationship with Him and begin to view all aspects of life through the lens of his glory ... We need an increased affection for God that will expel from our hearts our affections for the things of this world. (p175, emphasis mine)

Some things to think about:
  1. Are you generous with your money? If not, why not? What do you spend your money on instead?
  2. Do you struggle with 'vicarious immorality'? Do you need to change your reading or viewing habits as a result?
  3. Do you dress modestly (whether you are male or female)? Do you avoid looking at those who are immodestly dressed?
  4. What are your idols on earth?
  5. Do you need to commit again to becoming more godly, seeking God and him alone?

On Friday: Chapter 21 - Where do we go from here?

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