Sundays are for Book Reviews: Worldliness

Confession time, y’all. I started this book a long time ago, then put it down after one chapter. I was so heavily convicted that I talked myself into skipping the harder parts of the text, only to discover that I’d have to skip the WHOLE text to avoid conviction.

Ironically enough, this is exactly what Thomas Jefferson did with his Bible, as described in the first chapter of Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. Mr. Jefferson may have been a great statesman, but when it came to the truth of Scripture, he actually cut words and verses out of the Bible that were too convicting to him. I can completely understand how that would have made his reading a lot lighter, but that obviously didn’t make it right. Likewise, I was tempted to put down this book AGAIN on my second attempt to complete it… but I didn’t! The words, though difficult to read at times, were powerful and transforming, and I’m glad to have spent the time reflecting on these truths.

The book is a basically a series of essays focusing on our battle to avoid worldliness in four areas of our modern world — in our media, in our music, in our “stuff,” and in our clothing. There is also a chapter on loving the world in a godly way while not becoming worldly. Clear as mud? The writers really do a better job at fleshing out these ideas than I do in summarizing them, and again and again, they warn readers against legalism (a sin I am all too prone to in my little conservative Christian bubble) and encourage readers towards facing and filtering all aspects of life through a God-pleasing and God-glorifying lens. In other words, they explain how to ask crucial questions when dealing with every day issues like television programming, clothing choices, music preferences, and purchases. Asking yourself “does this cause me to love God more or lessen my passion for Him?” when choosing to watch something or asking yourself “are these possessions more dear to me than God?” when considering a purchase are suggestions made by the different authors.

While this all seems very heavy and unrealistic, I have to say that there is some truth to the warnings laid out. How many times do we find it difficult to give something of material value away to help someone else? How desensitized have we become to things like adultery by watching it happen so often (and likely being entertained by it) on television?

This book does NOT call everything evil and forbid us from interacting with the world. It simply lays out bright yellow CAUTION tape around areas of life that have the potential to lead us away from the pursuit of God. Walking away from a vibrant relationship with Christ doesn’t happen quickly — it’s a gradual process, full of steps that were likely so small that we didn’t even notice they were happening. This book, while sobering, is a good warning and an even greater challenge to be more mindful of how to honor the Lord in all aspects of life.

How about you? What are some books that have challenged the way you think?

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