Have you compromised your faith?
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world;” (1 John 2:15, NRSV)
In His famous prayer recorded in the gospel of John, Jesus asked that His followers would be “in the world, but not of it” (John 17). Jesus believed that if the world captured the imagination and love of His followers, they would be seduced by its wonders and swayed by its desires. That is why in that same prayer, Jesus asked that despite keeping His followers in the world, they would not become coopted by “the evil one”, Satan (John 17:15). Jesus knew from His own history with Satan, that the Evil One was very good at manipulating worldly issues and pressures and prizes in order to manipulate souls away from Almighty God. By doing so, the followers of Christ would be compromising their souls, falling prey to the wiles of Satan.
A famous pastor and Theologian (A.W. Tozer) said this about compromising your faith in worldly ways: “Christianity today is so entangled with this present world that millions never guess how radically they have missed the New Testament pattern.
Compromise is everywhere—but actually no real union between the world and the Church is possible. When the Church joins up with the world it is the true Church no longer but only a pitiful hybrid thing, an object of smiling contempt to the world, and an abomination to the Lord!” (Mornings with Tozer)
How do you recognize when worldly issues and delights have captivated your soul? Start by looking at your thoughts. When you get up in the morning with a desire to enjoy the fruits of the earth without a thought to God’s blessings, be careful. It may be that your enchantment with earthly things is foremost in your mind. If your sexual desires have you pining after someone so badly that he or she is all you seem to think about, be warned. Your mind is being manipulated by hormones, sensual urges, and lusts. If your looks matter more to you than your work for the Lord, watch out. Your appearance, instead of God, may begin to define your worth. If you have the desire to make the most money possible so that you may live a life of luxury and don’t care what you have to do to achieve it, your faith has already been compromised. When you feel a strong pull to have the latest and greatest gadget or vehicle or a bigger house because you want it more than need it, your faith is already in danger. The more that earthly goods, services, and lusts control your thoughts, the greater the chance that your soul has already been compromised. These lifestyle choices can so easily ensnare you!
Robin Bain writes about Hollywood, “The Biz”. She has a blog dedicated to landing work in Hollywood. On May 14, 2016, she wrote the article, “Surviving in Hollywood by Selling Your Soul”. In that article, she describes a young woman “fresh off the Greyhound Bus from the Midwest” who is at a Hollywood party of A-listers. This is what she wrote:
“Scattered industry professionals linger at a backyard barbecue in West Hollywood, California. Aspiring actors, actresses, models, writers, directors — everyone eager to network at the social event; hoping for the ever-elusive “connection” that could possibly lead to a real role in something, legitimate representation, financing – anything to lend a boost to achieve the seemingly impossible….
Skimming the surface of a kidney shaped pool, blood red manicured toes generate rolling ripples on the water. Nursing a beer straight from the bottle, a lithesome, 20-something, red head glances back at the party of Hollywood hopefuls… uninterested in the possible networking opportunities; she finishes off her beer and continues to play with the water.”
This woman has gained the right to be at this exclusive party because she has made “deals” off the books. She has exchanged sexual favors to a fifty-year-old man who has connections. In exchange for living at his place, “rent free”, she will be introduced to the movers and shakers of Hollywood. All she needs to do is be at the beck and call of this man who will use her for his own purposes.
How has this young woman fallen prey to the world? She is willing to throw away her morals and values for a shot at the celebrity life. She is using her sexual favors in exchange for potential job offers. She is compromising the faith she grew up having in the hope of becoming famous. Sadly, this usually ends badly, as do all worldly compromises.
You may look down on this young woman in Hollywood. You may consider her worldly choices as indicative of no faith. Be careful. There might be more subtle worldly ways that have taken hold in your heart or mind or life. You may not have given out sexual favors, but have you used sex to manipulate someone? Have you ever set aside your values to make some money? Have you ever done something unrighteous in order to achieve a goal? Compromising with the world is so dangerous but so easy to accommodate in your life.
Being in this world brings its own temptations. Being human, you will sin. Jesus prayed that His disciples did not fall prey to the evil one, to Satan, by compromising their faith in worldly ways. Examine your thoughts. Are there worldly thoughts that have been creeping in from time to time? Are there worldly lusts that seem to enchant and captivate your dreams? You can’t love God and love the world at the same time (1 John 2:15b)!
I have found that focusing on God and on mission opportunities is a great way to regain a faithful outlook on what is important in life. I have found that retreats and camping opportunities may separate us from worldly pressures just enough to make us see the holy in everyday life. If you find yourself getting too caught up in worldly desires, remove yourself from them for a while. Meet up with God. Take time to rediscover a joy that is not based on worldly treasures. You just might rediscover yourself along the way.