May 27, 2015

Called to be Different

Passage: 1 John 2:15

Bible Text: 1 John 2:15 | Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15

Writing to the men and women who lived in the capital of the world, the ancient city of Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t let the world force you into the mold” (Romans 12:2, Phillips). The Living Bible puts it, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think.”

This demands radical transformation; but the issue is, how can all of this happen? How can I, as a human being who struggles with my old nature, separate myself from all that I don’t want to be and be renewed in the image of God?

It becomes apparent, reading the writings of the New Testament, that following Christ demands the leaving of something for something else uniquely different. One is described as the world; the other, the kingdom of God. The two are not only different, they are enemies of each other.

James wrote that the person who is a friend to the world is an enemy to God (James 4:4). Toward the end of the first century, John, the last surviving Apostle, admonished: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

Question: As time progressed, did folks in the church expect more of Jesus’ followers than He himself did?

When Jesus called men and women, He challenged them to follow Him, but it became apparent in stepping out to follow Christ, they were leaving something behind, something which could no longer be part of their lives. It was not a matter of no longer fishing at Galilee, or doing house chores or shopping, or sitting at the receipt of custom. It was a mind-set, a mentality which was willing to break with custom and, at times, even laws. Following Jesus demanded new allegiance with a different set of values.

When Jesus prayed in the garden shortly before Calvary, He prayed not that God would take them from the world, but rather that He would protect them in the world. Jesus said, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” (John 17:16).

When the Bible talks about the world, are we describing the beautiful mountains, the flowers that bloom in the meadows, the warmth of a tropical sunset as it bathes the thunderclouds in crimson and pink? No! We are talking about a mentality, a way of thinking, as well as a way of life.

The kingdom of man which can be called “the world” is in marked contrast to the kingdom of God, where Christ rules in the hearts and lives of men and women. In the world, anything goes. If it feels good, do it. The world’s admiration is for the winner. Sex, beauty and money reign supreme. Values are relative. Might makes right. Beginning to get the picture?

That’s the world in which we live, one that has existed since the fall of Adam. It is also the world in which Jesus calls His followers to march to the beat of a different drummer, to be different because of the change of heart which comes as people follow Him.

Paul states clearly that conversion means being delivered from this mind-set or authority as we submit to Jesus Christ. Writing to the Colossians, Paul said Christ “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son” (Colossians 1:13).

Do we need to rediscover the truth of today’s short commentary? I’m convinced we do. I believe with all my heart that our failure to know the difference between the world and the kingdom of God has resulted in an anemic, powerless Church today. It accounts for massive human failure in our lives, our marriages, and our children. Today, the great enemy is not without. It’s within the gates, and we must recognize that fact to do something about it.

Resource reading: 1 John 2