Are you influenced by the world? I’m not sure I’d believe you if your answer is “No.” We’re all part of a culture (or many cultures) from the time we’re born. We don’t realize how much it becomes ingrained in us until we are confronted with other cultures. What may be acceptable in my culture may not be acceptable in yours. Scripture is a whole different standard. It rises above culture even though God can work within it. As Christians we’re taught to be in the world but not of it. Easier said than done. We’re called to live differently even though our culture may not understand. We stand against the world’s norms only to be attacked for not being tolerant. We’re called to fight our flesh and walk in the Spirit. As much as I’ve grown in the Lord over the years, I still struggle with fear and worry. I didn’t realize how much I still think like the American culture until recently. God has demonstrated His power and provision abundantly in my life, yet I still falter. I’m sure I’m not alone. From what I’ve observed through my Christian education, current Christianity (at least from an American perspective) is not that different from the world…and this is a problem. We claim the supremacy and power of God while trying to do everything on our own. We follow the cultural routine of going to school, getting a job, making money, etc. without even consulting God because we’re taught that these actions are the right, Christian things to do. We’re also inspired when we read about the disciples because they dropped everything to follow Christ. They literally left their livelihoods. Sometimes they were ordered by Christ to take money and extra clothing with them on their journeys whereas other times they were supposed to be provided for by the people they ministered to. As disciples of Christ, are we willing to follow God like this? To live in constant trust that the Lord takes care of His children? I don’t know about you, but it’s the world in me that keeps me from such trust…and it’s my job to kick it out. I wrote a short poem to help me sort through all of these thoughts.
The World in Me (originally written September 9, 2014)
Striving to follow God,
I’m being held back by my own mind.
I thought I purged the world from within,
but there’s still residue.
I never realized how powerful culture can be
until I started to fight it.
How ingrained are my ways of thinking.
How set are the priorities of the world.
I focus on what’s temporary instead of the eternal.
I place what I need to accomplish above others.
Instead of following the wisdom of the world,
I ought to be a fool for Christ:
Ministry is greater than monetary gain.
Selflessness demonstrates true love.
Forgiveness is more powerful than bitterness.
Trusting what is unseen results in the miraculous.
The world does not understand these things,
but the Spirit does.
It’s time to stop living with this dichotomy
and vanquish the world in me.
© Lauren Heiligenthal