I tremble for the amount of worldliness which prevails in some professing Christian families!
(Ashton Oxenden, "Worldliness!" 1884)
I tremble for the amount of worldliness which prevails in some professing Christian families! There is a great danger, lest pleasure and excitement should be regarded as the one object to be sought after — lest Jesus should be robbed of His true allegiance, and hearts, born for higher and better things — should be drawn down to earth, and riveted there by a chain which is not easily broken!
Oh, how soon, how fatally soon — we pass, imperceptibly perhaps, from things lawful to those which are doubtful — and then a step further, to those which are positively sinful! How soon does the heart, in which there was once a spark of the love of Christ — become chilled and warped by its contact with the world! How soon does the reading of light and frivolous books take the place of that precious Word, which is truth itself! And how soon is communion with God, exchanged for fellowship with the world!
I do indeed tremble for those who are dreaming away the best portion of their lives, who are spending them in vanity and emptiness — and will one day wake up with the miserable feeling that they have lived to no real purpose!
Did our Lord live thus, when here on earth? Did the early Christians live thus? Then we cannot live thus. No, unless we are willing to give up the Savior, whom we have pledged ourselves to follow, and the glorious inheritance we profess to be living for!
The question is: Are we candidates for everlasting happiness? If we are — then we must live, not for this world, but for eternity. Our hearts and our treasure must be there!
But there is a danger into which some fall. There are some people who imagine that they are giving up the world — when, in fact, they are merely transferring their attachment from one class of worldliness to fix it upon another. Parties and theaters are perhaps put aside — when other amusements of a kindred nature, and scarcely less attractive, are indulged in. This however is not self-denial — it is still enjoying the world, though in another shape — it is turning aside from one kind of self-pleasing, that we may indulge in another.
How sad to think that our best and truest Friend should ever be forcibly excluded from our hearts — and the world with all its trifles let in!
Ought we not then, as followers of Christ, to stand aside from a thoughtless, trifling world? Is not the beaten path, sometimes an unsafe path? Is not the stream that flows the smoothest, sometimes nearest to the precipice? Take care lest you are gliding down the stream of this world — lest you are walking in the broad road which hundreds walk in, and then suddenly find out that it is the way of eternal destruction!
Another reason why we should not love the world, is because its joys are at best unsatisfying. They are like alcohol to a thirsty man, which only make him thirst the more. They will never satisfy his desire, but only feed it. The worldly man, whether he is seeking after earthly pleasures, or earthly gains — is ever seeing a paradise in the distance; but the nearer he approaches it, the more sure it is to vanish, like an optical illusion, from his sight.
There is another reason why you should not love the world — and that is because it is only temporary — its joys and gains are merely for a time. There is a shifting, fleeting, fading character about them.
This world is but a tent, spread out for our present abode — Heaven is a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
This world is but a passing shadow — Heaven an enduring substance.
This world a pilgrimage — Heaven is a home.
This world is a desert — Heaven a paradise.
This world is a strange land — Heaven is the place of our citizenship.
This world abounds with storms — Heaven is a universal calm.
This world is full of changes — in Heaven our lot will be forever fixed.
This world is the abode of sin, and shame, and sorrow — Heaven is a scene of holiness, of glory, and of God.
It is not, I know, easy to take a decided and unworldly course. It will cost you much. Your conduct will be carped at, and counted as folly. Yes, the stream is strong — and you must stem it. The way is steep and narrow — we do not deny it. But then how blessed it is to be following Christ! How safe are those who are walking closely by His side!
No, we cannot serve two masters! We cannot drink the cup of the Lord — and yet quaff the sweet but poisonous cup of the world!
Oh, remember, the world may be in your heart — though not in your actions! You may love the world, and secretly pine after it — though you have outwardly renounced it. It is a great thing to be honest with ourselves — for God is not mocked. If you really desire to follow Jesus and to renounce the world, you must mortify your earthly affections — and raise them to things above. "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!" Colossians 3:1-2