What does the business man shaking hands on a million dollar deal have in common with the preacher delivering the sermon of his life to a capacity crowd?
What does the Hollywood socialite posing for the paparazzi have in common with the homeschool mom sans make-up in her frumpy jumper?
What does the “chaste” and unmarried Christian leader living a humble lifestyle alone have in common with Hugh Hefner living a lavish lifestyle surrounded by beautiful women?
We are all born into an insidious and mostly undetected lie that almost single handedly drives this world. Not only does it inform the majority of our interactions, the vast majority of us, Christians or Non, are unwittingly enslaved to it’s incredible power. This force is a secret enemy of love, joy, peace and everything we would agree is good and pure.
The Lie tells us that acquiring and adding valuable things to our lives makes us more valuable than others. “Things” can be material goods and wealth, like land, money, or cars or it can be intangibles like titles, positions, fame, or power and influence.
This Worldly System of Value creates a lust for superiority over others. No two things feed this lust quite like Wealth and Religion.
This worldly value system allows us to artificially inflate or deflate the value of ourselves and others with ease based on comparison, envy, jealousy and pride. It is a system of thinking when coupled with our human insecurity can cause us to act against each other in horrific ways.
This lie is a double edged sword which, with an upswing, can inflate your ego and make you feel on the top of the world only to knock you off your high horse and send you into a tail-spin of inferiority. A man with $100 in his pocket will feel quite proud and superior as he walks through a back alley of homelessness, but send the same man to the Old Money Private Golf Club in the Hamptons and he’d feel like an impoverished chump.
The tragic thing about buying into this False and Worldly System of Value is that the only way to gauge your progress is to compare yourself to others. Those ahead of you in the game earn your respect and admiration, which can seem almost like worship at times. Those beneath you in the game earn your condescension and pity which can seem like self-worship at times.
Another tragic thing is we become foolish slaves to whoever is the measure of value. You can feel rich and superior carrying around a hand-bag that cost $2000, but since it only cost $5 to make I’d say what you really bought was a lie. Boy, that Louis Vuiton sure knows how to capitalize on False Value.
False Value. Think about the currency we slave and sweat and kill for. It’s not backed by anything of real value.
Not only is this value system alive and well in the Christian church, it is fostered and encouraged by pastors and so-called “Christian Leaders.” We’ll see later where the Apostle Paul claims all the man-made rules in the Church “are of no value…”
Let’s be real here. Having thousands of followers is just as important to Christian leaders as it is to Rock Stars and World Leaders and Media Hog Socialites. Having followers is having power. It’s this power struggle that drives religion and is responsible for an attitude of Moral Superiority which has spurred wars and killings in the name of Christ for centuries. Think “Pharisees.”
The religious among us have just traded what we perceive as the world’s system of value based on earthly possessions for another system that promises us value based on piety and morality. Are we merely trading one worldly system for another?
The evil nature of this Worldly System of Value can not be overstated. We are talking about a point of view which informs almost everything we do, every decision we make, and is the real cause of murder, genocide, hatred, rage, pride, racism, jealousy, slander and everything evil.
So, what do they have in common?
Motivated by their own human insecurities, all of the above characters are tempted to believe they are superior to others.
The preacher can feel “spiritually” superior to those in his congregation because, after all, HE was the one who devoted his life to doing “God’s work.”
The business man can feel superior because he just bought a new Mercedes-Benz with his bonus check, while his neighbor drives a 10 year old Honda.
The Hollywood starlet knows she’s superior to most other women because…..duh, who are the photographers chasing?
The homeschool mom convinces herself she’s superior to other moms because they send their kids off to public school and spend all their time getting their nails and hair done and working out at the gym, and…duh, beauty and fitness are just “worldly” vanities.
The unmarried Christian leader builds a whole system of moral superiority teaching his followers that if they live life to a higher standard than common church goers, God will bless them by helping them avoid unnecessary suffering that most stupid humans suffer. I guess it’s the same as believing we can build a tower to the heavens. But after the Bill Gothard scandal, it’s plain to see he believed himself higher than his own rules.
I imagine Hugh Hefner is probably pleased with himself building a successful business which makes the most beautiful women in the world want his approval.
(Side note: The unmarried Christian leader also surounds himself with beautiful women who want his approval. Bill Gothard and Hugh Hefner are really not as different as we are supposed to think.)
This “better than” attitude which comparison fosters is an incredibly poisonous and dangerous mentality. It is responsible for atrocities and destruction throughout history. See what happens when we, as human beings, allow ourselves through the worldly system of value to feel superior to others:
Look at the Islamic State Militants. They think their religion is better than all other religions and their proposed form of government is better, so they massacre any person or people group that gets in their way. They compare themselves, make a value judgement and kill those who don’t agree.
Look at racism. Comparing ourselves to each other by skin and culture. We are so insecure we must be convinced our skin color and our culture is the best.
Slavery, for God sakes.
Look at Hitler. Trying to create a whole nation and race of “superior” people. Anyone who won’t fit in or can’t fit in is inferior and a threat to a new approach to life.
All of the above are examples of how this wrong thinking not only divides us, but also causes us to attack each other. Maybe it’s like what happens in nuclear fission. Maybe mankind is really meant to live in harmony, but as we are split apart it causes a catastrophic chain of devastation.
Beware of those who wear their Wealth on their sleeves “to be seen by men,” but also beware of those who wear their Religion on their sleeves “to be seen by men.”
My Dad is Bigger than your Dad
Why are we so eager to inflate our own value while deflating the value of others? Why do we insist on perpetuating the old playground “pissing contests” of “my dad is bigger than your dad?”
We are all insecure.
We attempt to answer our insecurity and need for identity in different ways. Religion, money, status, and social clubs are devices we use to feel good about ourselves. The peer pressure of high school never really dies. We just choose the group we would like to fit into and act and dress and talk accordingly. We feel more secure if we are accepted by a group of people.
The Social Club of Christianity can just as easily foster this worldly system of value as any other slice of human social order. To be a member in good standing there are codes of conduct you must follow. For a lot of well meaning people, a materialistic worldview of keeping up the the Joneses is simply replaced by keeping up with the good folks at the local church. Instead of how many exotic vacations you can afford, maybe you’re more concerned with how many overseas missions trips you’ve taken.
Do you want to feel significant? Join a denomination who claims to have the secret of eternal life. Want to feel even more significant than that? Join a smaller sect of people who live in a gated compound and believe only THEY truly understand God’s secret commands and anyone who lives outside the gate is going to hell.
It makes you feel significant to think what you believe is right and what others believe is wrong. It makes you feel superior. Feeling superior feels good. Being full of pride in yourself and your special club feels good.
Not of this World
Worldly. What does that word mean to you? I grew up in church. To me it refers to people who engage in “sinful” things like sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. “Worldly” has always been a bad word to me.
If I were to ask you to decide which of the cast of characters I introduced are worldly, who would you choose? Probably the Successful Business Man, The Hollywood Socialite, and Hugh Hefner, right? If you grew up a homeschooler, like me, you’d throw the Public School Moms in there too.
(Side note: My sons currently attend public school.)
It may surprise you to know the Apostle Paul had a very different idea of worldliness, and it’s not at all what I was taught to believe it meant. For instance, if someone told me about a person who attended church, but was very “worldly,” I would have some specific assumptions about that person. I would think they probably listen to secular music, they probably watch R rated movies, they probably consume alcohol and/or tobacco. They probably also have tattoos. They probably use swear words. Maybe in Paul’s day the guy who ate the meat sacrificed to idols would have been considered “worldly” by the pious.
So Paul, enlighten us. What is worldliness?
“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4, emphasis mine).
So worldliness has more to do with jealousy and quarreling than enjoying a glass of wine.
Why are they jealous? The unspoken truth in most churches is that the people on the stage are more important than the people quietly serving in the back. We compare ourselves among ourselves. Plenty of fuel for jealousy. (Check out Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 10:12).
Why are they quarreling? They’re arguing about who is right and who is wrong. About which human being they should follow. Paul or Apollos? Who has the truth and who doesn’t. According to Paul, this is the epitome of worldliness.
It’s worldly to think that someone has it “all figured out.” “If I just do what they do, or follow their teachings I’ll be doing the right thing too.”
Comparing yourself to others is worldly. Measuring your success based on the perceived success of others is worldly.
Believing that a church leader can figure out God’s plan for your life is worldly. Setting up a new system or denomination or organization and selling it as “a better way” is worldly.
The Corinthians were trying to personify the Spirit of Truth by finding which human being God had given the greatest measure. We can’t understand how Worldly this line of thinking is until we accept that under the New Covenant, God has distributed his Spirit to each of us. We collectively are the temple of God. If you want to walk in the Spirit you are going to have to acknowledge this new spiritual reality.
If it is true that we have been given the Spirit of God collectively, choosing a leader is like trading your birthright for a bowl of stew. It’s like asking for a king in order to be “like all the other nations” while rejecting God as King. It’s like sending Moses up the Mount because we are too afraid to encounter God for ourselves. It’s like building an idol or “high place” to worship when God said, “Don’t make any graven images.”
Setting up one person in the church to be more important than others is worldly.
So according to Paul, what would be the simplest proof that the modern, mainstream Christian church is full of this Worldly System of Value? Baptist, Charismatic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Southern Baptist, Primitive Baptist, Reformed Baptist, Foursquare, Pentacostal, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, Catholic, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist, Non-Denominational, etcetera, ad nauseum.
All these denominations are a product of worldly jealousy and quarreling. “We have the Spirit of Truth and you do not.”
Just Plain Worldly
We can replace the phrase “Worldly System of Value” with just the one word: Worldliness. It’s the Looking Glass we humans use that makes us feel superior or inferior to other humans based on status, perceived successes, accumulation of money or titles or degrees or time in the pulpit, or who has the most followers on twitter, or who has more number one hits on the radio. Or who waited to till their wedding day to share their first kiss.
We have an insatiably egotistical need to inflate our own value, even if it means we must deflate the value of someone else. When we look at others through the Looking Glass of Worldliness, we are automatically, subconsciously lead to decipher their value according to how well they line up with what we believe is right and wrong. Our ideas of right and wrong are just a measuring stick to judge other people.
So, Worldliness is fueled by insecurity. We all want to feel significant and secure. The easiest way to accomplish this is compare yourself to others. Put others down and you feel elevated.
Hi, My Name is Kris, I’m a Church-aholic
Dean Sherman, a popular speaker with YWAM (Youth with a Mission), put it best when he said it’s not what you have or don’t have that’s important. It’s whether or not you need to have it in order to be a “Somebody.” If you find your ego inflated by living in a big house, maybe it’s become too much part of your identity. He describes this phenomena as “The Spirit of the World;” a false system of value.
So ask yourself, is your faith and religion based on outpacing others? Do you feel good about yourself because you pray more than others? Do you read your Bible more? Do you volunteer more of your time to charity? Do you deny yourself pleasures because it makes you feel more holy? Have you made your place amongst a group of people you consider superior to others? Do you belong to a church of people who are better at all of the above than the church down the street? Do you homeschool your kids?
Do you think you’re better than your neighbor who drinks beer because you “never touch the stuff”? What about your Diet Coke habit? Is it really that different?
There was a time in my life where I would have answered “yes” to all those questions. I answered my need to be a “Somebody” with my performance as a Super-Christian. It’s surreal to look back and have to admit that all those years I thought I was being spiritual, I was actually steeped in a worldly system of valuing myself and my beliefs above others. I was extremely worldly in my thinking. I was a Pharisee.
Worldly Point of View
Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:
16 “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.”
What is this worldly point of view he’s referring too? Look a few verses back at 12:
“those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.”
I can say that the Successful Business Man is worldly because he has a big house and fancy cars. “He has more than he needs. So, I’m going to drive an old car and live in an old house to prove I’m more holy.” Do you see what I’ve just done? I’ve used the flip side of the same device to distinguish myself. He thinks he’s better because he has more. I think I’m better because I have less. It’s the same worldly attitude of comparison and judgement.
So who is better? The guy who has more or the guy who can live with less? Neither.
Those of us who have rejected materialism think we are free from the Spirit of the World. We are so wrong. We have found other things of value to add to our trophy room of superiority.
Perhaps the best picture of this “worldly point of view” is described in the first four verses of James Chapter 2. This is what it looks like to judge others from a worldly point of view and the example is inside the church:
“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?”
Showing favoritism and partiality to the wealthy, famous, and or successful people is evil. More than that, it demonstrates a lack of understanding of the Gospel of Grace.
Oh, and just to reiterate that last point James says (verse 9): “…if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
Sex, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll is the least of our worries, people. There is a whole lot more serious and repulsive kind of sinning going on in churches all over the world.
The Last is Certainly Not the Least
What does Jesus have to say about this worldly system of value?
He totally flipped it on its head.
“….whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—” (Matt. 20; 26-27).
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Jesus’ followers asked him, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” He presented a child to them and said, “unless you become like this child you will not even enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:2-3).
25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 …I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22).
He told the Rich Young Ruler “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
That’s the sound of Jesus blowing up the Worldly System of Value. This is what he is setting us free from. He is vehemently opposed to it; it is the antithesis of his nature, the nature of love and generosity.
Boy, did he hate the Pharisees. They were definitely ones to “take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.” They blow their trumpets on the street corners to announce their “righteous” deeds.
In Jesus’ economy it was the one cent gift of the poor widow that was the greatest. Not the thousands given by the rich man out of his surplus.
Do you think Christ was trying to free us from sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll? If only we were more moral? Does abstaining from immoral behavior really make you holy?
Immorality is a symptom. We add sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll to our lives when we feel disconnected. The False System keeps us from connecting with each other. What keeps us from having loving relationships with each other? We’re too busy judging each other and avoiding each other.
I judge you based on what I see, then you judge me for judging you. I’m not even going to try befriending that guy, because I know he’s going to judge me.
Worldliness is the Enemy of Love.
Are you ready for the Truth to Set you Free?
So what does it look like when people in the church are operating with this false system of value?
It looks just like it does out in the world. It is pressure to conform to a system of living. “You’re of no value to us unless you do A, B, and C, and have the biggest and best X, Y, and Z.”
It looks like putting people on a pedestal and selling them as holy because they abstain from this, that and the other thing.
It looks like the preacher who tells his congregation if they want to thrive in God’s Kingdom they have to come to church three times a week.
It looks like telling women they can only wear skirts and can’t wear make up.
It looks like telling people if they only live a moral life, and read their Bible everyday, God will magically bless them.
If you’re like me, you’ve encountered this worldly, false system of value in the Church and have been damaged by it. I’m writing this for you and me. Just like Jesus throwing the money changers out of the Temple, I want to see this “wolf in sheeps clothing” eradicated from the Church.
I want to encourage kids like me who grew up in church and feel like they were sold a bundle of lies.
In Colossions Chapter 2…..
Let me just step back for a second. I know when scripture is presented to a lot of us Church Babies our eyes start glazing over. I stopped going to church a long time ago because I don’t need anyone else telling me what the Bible says.
I understand how you feel, but these words from Paul I’m about to quote are the equivalent of a big “Fuck You!” to all the worldly judgmental church leaders who have ever made you feel bad.
Just clear your mind and read this with your middle finger held high:
“16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.
Here’s the kicker…
20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’?22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”
All these rules and social pressures we are presented with in the name of God are worldly and are of no value in the pursuit of righteousness.
Holy $h!+! Did you even realize these words were in the Bible? The same flipping Bible that has been beat over your head over and over?! Read it again, and again, until you feel the Truth of this breaking the chains of condemnation and defeat.
Do you realize Paul, in a few paragraphs, armed with the true knowledge of Christ’s mission, has just freed you from the clutches of Bill Gothard and all the other worldly Bible teachers?!
This calls for a celebration, Jesus style! Imagine in your mind right now all the judgmental bull shit you’ve suffered in the church and envision yourself, in a fit of rage, overturning all the tables and lies and condemnation and rules and shame. Scream from the top of your lungs obscenities and break something in your mind right now!!! (Hell, break a plate or something while you’re at it).
Did you catch that? Paul is calling out all those people who brag about their “spiritual” encounters and their quiet times, and hearing from God and calling them “unspiritual.” Bragging is worldly. It’s an attempt to inflate their value and make others feel lesser than.
So what have we learned today?
The Mainstream Christian System is fueled by evil motives. Are you surprised? The devil masquerades as an angel of light.
True freedom is freedom from this False System of Value. Maybe the hippies were on to something.
We have been completely misled about what it means to follow Christ and not be “worldly.” How can Bible Teachers read Colossians 2 and still insist on making rules for us?! It is unbelievable to me!
If you’re trying to follow Christ you need to realize he is trying to lead you past all the worldly religious and materialist bullshit and free you to live your life the way you want. He wants you to be free to be who he created you to be.
Jesus hung out with people the religious leaders called “sinners.” But he hated the pious Pharisees who made “righteousness” a public performance while hiding their evil motives. “White-washed tombs full of dead man’s bones.”
Evil looks a lot more like Bill Gothard and maybe less like Hugh Hefner.
Ask yourself one question, “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules?” The worldly system is always trying to enslave you.
We are free. It’s up to us to stop submitting ourselves to the rules and teaching of other humans who are slaves to worldly thinking. Not to mention all the materialistic crap. Do you really think you’re not as valuable because you don’t have as much money as your neighbor? I want to stop thinking stupid thoughts like that, don’t you?
We need to be enlightened enough to stop taking “pride in what is seen rather than what is in the heart.”
Do you want to claw your way to top of the World’s pile of shit? Or would you rather just soar above it?
You have the Spirit of God. You are Holy. You transcend the World and it’s False System of Value.
I am Holy. I transcend the world and it’s False System of Value.
We are Holy. We transcend the world and it’s False System of Value.
Together we are Holy. Together we transcend the world and it’s False System of Value.
There is one simple way that we can think about each other which has already begun revolutionizing the world:
We believe that “…all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” That cuts right through the heart of the False System of Value. Our value comes from God.
So what do Bill Gothard and Hugh Hefner have in common? They both need to learn to take pride in the things of the heart and not in the things that can be seen.
Have you worked hard and got your picture in Bill’s newsletter? Have you worked hard and earned a centerfold in Hugh’s magazine? It means nothing. Why do you need their approval when you already have God’s?