“CHRISTIANS IN THE WORLD OR WORDLY CHRISTIANS? ”
“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (I Peter 4:16)
When the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26), it was a completely new life for them. These people had been exposed to religion for most of their lives and yet had never experienced the real joy of salvation. The faithful preaching and teaching of the “resurrected Christ” gave them hope and assurance beyond comprehension. They dared to be different in the world of sin and religion they had always only known before. There was much persecution during those days because now they opposed not only the religion of that day, but also the worldly activities they knew all too well.
While reading the book of Acts, we see recorded just how bold these Christians were as they took a firm stand for their Savior (cf Acts 2:42; 3:12-16; 4:5-12; 7:54-60; 8:4,5,12,25,35,40...and on and on). Did these people have fear? Of course, they were humans, but they also possessed courage and boldness that was fed by their faith in Christ. So, while they were in the world, they were not controlled by the world. They knew these could be turbulent times because of their opposition to the world and the religious world of that day. But, they had hope (the confident expectation) that they were not facing these days alone or without support. “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. And now I am nowhere in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are”(John 17:6,11). God never has, nor will He ever, abandon His children while they are exposed to the storms of life blowing violently through this world.
There is a huge difference in being a Christian in this world and a worldly Christian. A Christian in the world is there because of positioning, i.e. that is where he is placed. He has no choice in the matter, except not to become polluted by it. The worldly Christian, on the other hand, has a preference to be where he is or where he wants to be. “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…” (II Timothy 4:10). Demas made a choice to go back into the world. He is never heard of in Scripture again. Sadly, there is a multitude of people just like Demas in our world today. A Christian in the world will have convictions based on his personal relationship with Jesus Christ and will take a stand on the teachings of the Bible. A worldly Christian is not committed to a firm and growing spiritual life because his desire is to be comfortable with his worldly friends, trends and surroundings. We may, at times, question the true spirituality of these people. We know that they are not an asset to the body of Christ, and often do more to hinder others from coming to Christ by the uncommitted and carnal life they have chosen. Either way, we must keep in mind that “...we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give account of ourselves…” (Romans 14:10,12).
Folks, we need to make up our minds of whether to be a Christian in the world with a glowing testimony or a worldly Christian with a bad testimony. Choose wisely!Pastor H. Preston Parker