We live in a world where we can meet face to face on a screen with someone halfway across the world in a matter of seconds. In a time where three dots popping up on our phones can instantly create all types of emotions. We can stream TV shows on multiple devices even in the most remote places. Advancements in technology are growing at a rapid pace and it is affecting everything: how we communicate, how we work, how we act socially, how we shop, the way we view others, the list goes on. To go along with these advancements in technology, today’s society has created norms that completely go against the life God calls us to live as His people. If we are not careful, we will get taken by the wave with everyone else.
Turn on cable or Netflix and it will be only a matter of time before you see someone taking their clothes off or using foul language. The music our young people are listening to is filled with messages of chasing sex, money and drugs. You see this affecting our youth at younger ages than ever before. We have instant access to whatever we want in the palm of our hands including an endless selection of pornography. It would be naive to think that these things do not affect our relationship with Christ and how we interact with others. Without caution, these things could lead us on a downward spiral of becoming okay with the lies the world has to offer about what is acceptable in God’s eyes.
The Social Storm
Likes, favorites, retweets, repost, views, comments, you name it. If you’re on social media, and there’s a very good chance you are (81% of Americans are), you know the feeling of seeking to be liked, no pun intended. We all want to share our greatest moments with someone and want to know what everyone else is doing right? Otherwise, we wouldn’t have these social accounts. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against social media as I use it everyday and there are many benefits to using these tools. However, it is very important that we do not get caught up finding our identity in our positive or negative feedback on these sites.
Social media instantly creates a sense of comparison. “Did you see how many likes she got?” “Look at all the followers he has.” “If only I was as pretty as her.” No matter how awesome we think we are, there is always someone else out there that we will not compare to, at least in our own eyes. Social media is not bad, but it is a horrible god.
God’s Approval over Man’s
Whether we will admit it or not, almost all of us like to be accepted or hear the approval from others. We want the big house and the brand new sports car. We want the trophy wife who other men will be jealous of. When we accomplish something it’s much more enjoyable if there are others there to celebrate with or to boast to. We all love to hear our name being praised and the feeling of being accepted or admired. When we allow the seeking of approval to become an idol in our life, our relationship with Christ takes the back seat.
So the question we all have to face is: do I care more about what God thinks about me or what others think about me? Paul hits on this in his letter in Galatians. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Catch that? We can’t both be a servant to Christ and try to please man at the same time. We can’t be the servant of two masters (Matthew 6:24), one will always have priority over the other. God warns us about chasing things of the world and He promises much more to us than the world could ever offer.
Killjoy? No, Real Joy
Many people view following Christ as a burdensome task and see God as someone holding us back from many joyful things. On the outside looking in, I can see how this might be a common misconception. Let’s clear one thing up: we can’t expect those not in Christ to think like those of us whose eyes have been opened to the beauty of God’s glory. However, I am here to tell you that the life the Lord has to offer is endlessly better than chasing after joy in worldly things and we will receive our reward now and forever (Mark 10:30).
God’s commandments are not in place to keep us from joy, but to lead us to a greater endless joy. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). He gives us the command of delighting in Himself and when we do this we are trusting that He is for us. This will begin to shape our every desire. He wants us to be satisfied in Him and when we are, our desires begin to look more like His than the things the world tells us to desire.
We are blessed both now and for eternity when we find joy in His word. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).
Cling to the Eternal
We must focus on eternal things and not those that are passing (2 Corinthians 4:18). Our life in the view of eternity is nothing but a vapor (James 4:14). How disappointed will we be when we stand face to face with the Father knowing that we spent our every desire seeking things that we no longer have when we could have been investing in other’s lives? “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Let us not waste our time here on earth. Pastor Levi Lusko said, “If the devil can’t take you to hell, he will try to keep you from living for heaven.” We may not be able to experience the full joys of heaven here on earth but we can sure miss out on experiencing things that are meaningful in the current life and the life to come. “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
Through the Eyes of Jesus
To truly cleanse yourself from the world, you must come to the realization of who you are in Jesus. Jesus values you and you were created in His image (Genesis 1:27). He knew you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:16) and He knows the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30). He offers you eternal life (John 3:16) and while you were still a sinner, He died for you (Romans 5:8). You are born again through faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:3), you belong to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19) and you are loved by Him (1 John 3:1).
When we know who we are in Jesus and we believe that His promises are true, we begin to change. Our desires change. The things that bring us joy change. We let go of our guilt and shame. We no longer are slaves to sin but are slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). He promises to be with us until the end (Matthew 28:20). We will still struggle. We will still face pain. But we have a hope that surpasses all understanding and that is what keeps us going until the day we meet Jesus.
So How Do We Stay Clean In a Filthy World?
We must stand out in a world that loves to fit in. We must hate our sin and love the Lord’s commandments. This will take sacrifice, dying to yourself, sweat, prayer, accountability, meditating on scripture and more. Set boundaries, memorize scripture, have an accountability partner, turn down invites to partake in certain events. It’s not easy task, but it’s worth it. With faith in the power of Christ’s spirit dwelling in us, we can overcome our selfish desires and make eternal impact for the kingdom.
While we are cleansing ourselves from the world we have the opportunity to be Jesus in the life of someone around us. In no way by saying that we must cleanse ourselves from the world am I saying that we should shun the world and those who are not believers in Christ. I am saying just the opposite. We must strap up, put on our big boy britches and go work. Let us be so strongly rooted in the word of God that nothing can get in the way of us positively influencing everyone we come in contact with by sharing the love of Christ and the truth of His gospel.