First, though, we find worldliness is something that is opposed to God. "Do not love the world," wrote John, "====".
Second, though, what is worldliness? What do we mean when we say "Oh, he's too worldly" or "That's worldly"? The first thing we might mean is that someone is worldly if they are giving all their effort and thinking to things of 'this world' and leaving no room for God. Or, we might extend this to things connected with 'this world', the secular or physical things, as opposed to things connected with God, or 'the other world', that is sacred or spiritual things. Third, we might
Worldliness is an attitude, or even a world view, rather than something we do. What we do comes from this attitude.
The essence of worldliness is the attitude that "It doesn't matter what I do here because God doesn't care or see what I do."
Now, there are many Christians who hold what philosophers would hold a scholastic attitude, that the things related to God - such as prayer, worship - are so infinitely more important to things related to his creation that the latter don't really matter. There seem to be two streams of this, Catholic and Protestant. The Catholic version is the older, going back 1000 years. It emphasises ritual, church, priests, monks, etc. and makes all else, such as art or science, serve these things. The result was threefold. One was oppression of people and the natural world, one was the distortion and straightjacketing of the arts and sciences, the other was the worldly affluence of popes and hierarchy. All three resulted from thinking that the secular side was unimportant to God.
The Protestant version emphasises personal piety, personal acceptability with God and an intense individual love-relationship with God. These are, of course, important, but emphasising them leads to the kind of worldliness that I am talking about, and a more pernicious type than we might think. We emphasise personal piety, and forget justice. (Though the words 'righteousness' and 'justice' are actually from exactly the same word in Hebrew and Greek in the Bible, so they are actually the very same thing.) We emphasise personal acceptability with God, forgetting that God wants the whole world to be acceptable to him, and end up with a bastion mentality, in which we see it as our duty to fight and be against 'the world'. We emphasise intense individual love-relationship with God, and end up ignoring our duties to family, friends, colleagues and enemies - just as Jesus condemned the Pharisees for doing in Matt. ====).
This kind of worldliness are pernicious because it is so unexpected and unseen, that it can wreak its havoc before we realise it has done so. We do not think of ourselves as worldly; on the contrary we think of ourselves as totally OK. Like the Pharisee did who despised "this tax collector here; I pray twice a day, give tithes, etc."
But it is worldliness because it lets us do whatever we like with regard to the creation that God loves (providing only that we keep ourselves from transgressing a few rules we have made from our personal piety such as don't smoke or sleep around). If we are in business we often oppress those working for us. Or we ignore and are mean to those we work with. Or we ignore God's natural creation, and allow our colleagues to trample and destroy it. Or we ignore justice.
Or, on the other hand, we elevate some of these things. ====more to be written. - prayer, worship, and an intense love relationship between themselves and God -
Last updated: 7 February 2001 contact.