Recently we had our winter retreat for our youth group. The topic was: Resisting Worldliness, and was selected by our student leadership because they thought it was such a necessary topic for young people to hear. I think that this topic is necessary for all of us. We do not have to look hard to find the world’s ideas, thoughts, mindsets, and evaluations. They are on the radio, television, in the movie industry, in the fashion industry, and in our fascination with celebrity. Here are 5 ways that we can still live and exist in the world, but not be conformed to the ways of the world.
Number one is to enjoy your life. Just because the world is bad doesn’t mean you have to walk around with a scowl on your face all the time. It’s ok to enjoy the things that God has made and provided. Enjoy things like nature, good food, friendships, laughter, good art, etc. Those are things God gave us and wants us to enjoy.
Number two is to engage the world. Christians are called to be ‘light’ in the world, so be the light! Don’t separate yourself completely from the world and go live in a monastery or a cave. Get into your job or your school or your club and be the light in that place. One of the reasons I enjoy the COLOURS festival is that instead of refusing to produce art, the makers of that festival have decided to engage the culture by producing wholesome and good art. That is engaging the world and being a light.
Number three is to evangelize other people. Too often we think the culture is going to change if we just pass this law or elect this person to office or get this TV show cancelled. That is not how culture is going to change. The world’s values and mindsets will continue even if we get another president. The real change will only come as people get saved and give their life to Christ. One soul at a time; that is how culture can change for the better.
Number four is to equip your mind. Romans 12:2 says, “do not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We understand we should not be conformed, also we understand we are supposed to be transformed, but transformed into what? Into what the Word of God says we should be like! The only way to really be unlike the world and to be different is to equip our mind with what Scripture says our life should be like. What does God say about what our clothes should look like or what our entertainment choices should be? It’s there in that Book, we just have to equip our mind by using the right tool.
Number five is to evaluate your heart. This is the hard part. We really have to get down to the nitty gritty of why we do what we do. And we have to be honest with ourselves. It’s easy to just make a rule like: I won’t watch any rated R movies. It’s harder to truthfully evaluate and ask why I want to see that particular movie. Could it be that we really find our entertainment in evil and perversion? The answer to that question is more soul searching than simply making a rule to follow. Or ask yourself, why do I dress or talk the way that I do? Is it that I want others to notice and be impressed? Evaluating our heart can be a messy exercise but it makes all the difference in real life change.
One famous preacher said, “The reason the church holds such little influence over the world is because the world holds such big influence over the church.” That was said 150 years ago, and it still rings true today. Let us take to heart those words from Romans 12:2, “do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”Avoid conforming to the values of the world and pursue transformation through the Word of God.
Pastor Mark Scialabba