For the follower of Christ, every accomplishment, acknowledgement, and acclaim – every entanglement- in this world presents the risk of spiritual death. Every time we want our self to count in this world, we have diminished the purposes of Christ. When Scripture speaks of separation from the world, most believers think bars, nightclubs, casinos, brothels, etc. However, the entire world system lies under the domain of Satan – politics, education, commerce, trade – all that is in the world opposes the divine authority of God, and is culminating into a powerful anti-Christ domain. We cannot sanitize any aspect or minimize Scriptural declarations:
“…don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
Our highest and only ideal in any area, work, school, community – must be aligned with the Lord’s call for us there. The loftiest arenas such as medicine, politics, science or education have the greatest potential to overshadow the presence of Christ in our lives if we pursue high worldly standards and miss the mark for holiness and humility. God’s authority does not acquiesce to the ‘good’ of this world but calls us to obedience and surrender. Christian ministries are not immune to worldly influence and trappings – the ‘self appointed’ will count for nothing when presented on Christ’s altar.
Often and aptly said, with Christianity ‘everything up is down’. While those in the world strive to make a name for themselves, we as believers gain the greatest treasure – intimacy with the Lord – when we live as strangers, aliens, and foreigners in this world. “…you do not belong to this world, I have chosen you out of the world.” said Jesus, John 15:19
Divested, treading lightly, grasping loosely…..
“Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” (I Peter 1:17)
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” (I Peter 2:11)
“I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.” Psalm 119:19
For Christians to petition unbelievers in Hollywood, government, or education to represent Biblical values is futile and, moreover, misses the mark of Christ’s demonstrated life. Strangers, aliens, and foreigners typically do not make demands of host countries, nor do they have rights to do so, they are merely passing through. Moreover, our power against the enemy does not come from ourselves employing worldly tactics, but are spiritual, through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. If we are commissioned by God we are backed by heaven. Too often though, we are quick to protest but slow to separate ourselves unto the Lord, to fast and pray.
Without the Holy Spirit, most miss the inevitable truth, “Your life is just a vapor…” written in sand in a windy world.
“At every turn of your life, keep the end in view; remember that you will have to stand before a strict Judge who knows everything….” Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ.
Except for careful planners, most of us will not actually see our ‘final destination’, yet we could be scheduled to reach it tomorrow. The most profound transition of our life is the moment of our death . Rather than meditate upon it, even savor the moment we see Christ, we reject and dismiss such thoughts and go to great lengths to deny, delay and avoid the possibility of death. Our predecessors did not live in such a way, they ‘loved not their lives in this world’…believing that “to die is gain”. The Psalmist beckoned the Lord, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Numbering our days, meditating upon the great transition, is a deeply humbling influence to overshadow daily decisions, reactions, and priorities.
While harsh and devastating, death is often the quickening fire set to mature and separate believers unto Christ. It changes our focus from the temporal to the eternal – not just for our soul but for those eternal souls around us. Contemplating eternity undergirds the great commission, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News…” The reality of death should stir us with the passion and urgency of the Gospel.
Sovereign, Almighty God has a divine and fearful Book of Life. Such was supernaturally revealed to the hearts of God’s chosen throughout the ages; Moses referred to this Book of Life in his pleas for mercy, Daniel’s prophecies point to the preeminence of this Book, the Apostle Paul speaks of this Book, and the aged Apostle John sees this majestic Book of Life in Revelation. Man’s attempts to capture life, drama, and truth in books or literature are less than dust and ashes next to the book of all books, God’s Book of Life.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it….And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the Book of Life… If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20, excerpts)
One day soon the façade of this temporal world will fold and the majesty of God’s everlasting Kingdom will be established. It has been said,
“The believer’s life on this earth is his only arena for change and fruitfulness…the nature of eternity is changeless. Therefore, the time to become like Jesus, being conformed to His likeness, is during this earthly Christian experience of trial and faith”
“You and I will never be any closer to Christ, throughout eternity, than we are when He comes. That’s the point of judgment”.
Paul exhorts us, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Why so, if the cross of Christ is sufficient for our atonement and eternity? God declares judgment for the complacent. Unlike unbelievers, lukewarm ‘Christians’ misrepresent the majesty and awesomeness of God, attempting to weave Him into the world and that He opposes. God is a “consuming fire”. If we rightly discern and anticipate His coming judgment and Kingdom, we will have godly fear and trembling, and a deep grief for the lost that are without hope at His arrival.
“Oh Lord, help us to put our name – our reputation, our possessions, all that we are and have – into your Hand. Launch our lives out as Your vessels in this world that Your Name might be glorified and honored above all.”