I’ve been reading the New Testament out loud with my son this summer. We are working through each book in as large a chunk as we can so that we retain the original intentions of the writers.
One of the things I’ve noticed more deeply as we’ve moved rapidly from epistle to epistle is that most every writer warns believers about the world system. We all know that warning exists, but a quick move from one book to another really drives home that these writers were deeply concerned about that world system and how it negatively impacts the Christian life.
Here is a classic example of such a warning, but in a slightly different translation (J.B. Phillips’s New Testament in Modern English, the one we are reading) than some are used to:
Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time. For the whole world-system, based as it is on men’s primitive desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God’s will is part of the permanent and cannot die.
— 1 John 2:15-17 (NTME)
We tend to make the world system in that verse into little more than some bad things that we shouldn’t do, usually associated with the “flesh” and any sin that directly proceeds from our physical bodies. Today, abortion, sex outside marriage, and homosexuality would immediately be lumped into that world system as things we Christians should avoid—and rightfully so.
But that’s too simplistic an understanding of the world system. The NT writers ask for us to be wary of much deeper issues.
My question for readers:
What parts of our daily existence do we NOT question
as to their place in the present world system?
Is it possible that Christians make peace with parts of that world system because those parts make us comfortable? How much of daily living in the United States circa 2013 embraces the world system without our acknowledgment—or our ire?
Given how often the NT writers address this issue (a brief overview of which can be found through Xenos Christian Fellowship), are we paying less attention to it than we should? And if so, what do we do about correcting that lack?
Your thoughts and insights are greatly appreciated.