Has The World Taken Your Heart?
Anyone who loves the world hates Jesus. We tend to keep our eyes focused on this world too much and we wonder why we struggle with anxiety, stress, depression, addiction and so much more... When we take our eyes off of Jesus and focus on the world too much, we lose sight of the one thing that brings true life. Life isn't about success, making a lot of money, retiring early, being famous, or anything else that the world tries to convince us is the true way to life. Only Jesus can bring what we truly desire.
I want to start with a question for not only myself, but for you as well. Have I been crucified to this world? I believe this question must begin to penetrate our hearts in order for us to fully follow Christ and his plan for our lives. What does it mean to be crucified to this world and why is it such a big deal for those who follow Christ to grasp? We should always begin with scripture to understand our questions and how to answer them with God’s wisdom and not our own.
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the early Christian church in Galatia before the Jerusalem council in 50 AD. In chapter six of his letter he addressed the problem of circumcision for gentiles who had found the faith. A Jewish faction in the early church had taught that circumcision and other parts of the Mosaic Law was required for new believers. Paul states in his rebuttal, “ Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:13-14 NIV). The reason this text is so important is not so much about whether believers need to be circumcised or not. But instead, whether believers are boasting in the flesh or being crucified to it.
A problem I struggle with and many Christians alongside me is having a love for worldly possessions and less for heavenly ones. Now this is a human instinct, for we are born into sin and desire the flesh and not the things of God. Romans seven shares how Paul (and all sinners), continue to act on the desires of the flesh, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7: 19-20). While it is true we can never be perfect in this broken world, we can learn from our sin and gain strength to fight temptation from Christ. But what is the best way to learn? And how does God teach us to abandon the fleeting pleasures of this world?
One thing I have learned recently is that God uses troubles to reveal who and what we really love. During this season of change and loss, for many of us we have experienced troubles. Whether it be job loss, sickness, change in plans, or heightened anxiety. We can look around the world and see through trouble, what people love and cling to. Those who impulse bought loads of toilet paper, food, and other essentials are probably clinging to a worldly hope in material things. Again, we must ask ourselves, have we been crucified to the world? Now I am surely not saying that buying a little extra toilet paper or canned food at this time is wrong. But I do believe that it can be an issue of our hearts to cling to those things instead to the hand of God. Colossians three explains how God uses troubles to wean us away from earthly things, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3: 1-4). The bottom line is that God is continually trying to shape us to be more like Jesus.
In a podcast I have recently started following, Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker explain how “God’s ultimate goal for his elect is not to shower us with prosperity, but to conform them into the image of his son” (Just Thinking Podcast). This may be hard to grasp at first, but the reason God allows suffering in our lives sometimes is because it conforms us into being more like Christ. You might ask how this makes us more like Jesus. Hebrews five shares how Christ became obedient, “ Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5: 8-9). But what does all this have to do about not loving the world?
God teaches us to abandon the love for worldly desires by allowing troubles in our lives to show that this world is not our final resting place! Praise God that he goes to prepare a place for us where there is no suffering or death! Revelation 21 shares, “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea” (Revelation 21: 1). The new heavens and new earth are what we patiently await while we do the work of Christ in this broken world. We must crucify ourselves to this world as Paul says so we can remember our eternal home is returning with the second coming of Christ. If we hold tightly to the things of this world, we will not be able to do the works Christ has for us for his glory. May our prayers be for God to remind us of our true home in the new heavens and new earth. May we every day be strengthened by the Holy Spirit as we fight off the temptations of the flesh and seek to become more like Christ.