We live in a sinful world. Therefore don’t touch the world.
That’s the attitude of many Christians. Their hope for heaven seems to be founded upon having as little contact with this earth as possible.
Sometimes, this world-fright and world-flight is manifested very obviously in monasteries, convents, and communes. But usually it’s subtler, more camouflaged, more difficult to identify. Some of its disguises include thoughts and words along the following lines:
- What’s the point in improving the world, it’s all going to be burned up very soon
- I hope the world gets worse, so that people will see their need of Christ
- Doing scientific (or theological) research would compromise my faith
- Beauty = Vanity
- Why should I try to make unbelievers’ lives better?
- Inventors just want to make money
- Politics is just worldly
- Everything new is suspect
Multiple disguises, but one identity underneath them all – fear and flee the world. Don’t get too involved, discourage progress, dismiss beauty, denounce change, etc.
Just because the world is fallen and characterized by sin, does not mean that we are to fear and flee it. The same command to fill and rule the perfect world that was given to pre-fall Adam and Eve was also given to post-fall Noah in a sinful world. In fact, given the post-fall decline of the world, should there not be an even greater commitment to filling and ruling it in creative ways?
If one of our children gets sick, it doesn’t reduce our love and commitment to her. If anything, it increases it; we will do virtually anything to alleviate the symptoms or cure her illness. If it’s a contagious disease, we will obviously take extra precautions in our care and treatment, but we’ll never abandon her.
Love and labor
Similarly, we must share God’s abiding love for the world He has created. Despite its sin-sickness, we should also share His desire to alleviate symptoms and cure the disease. Extra precautions are required due to the contagious nature of sin. However, like God, we will not give up on the work of His hands. We will love the world (though not its sin) and labor in it and for it. That’s part of living like our Creator and for our Creator.
That’s not to say that we give up the “pilgrim” outlook (Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet 2:11). This world is not the Christian’s “home.” We are to live as nomadic campers rather than long-term settlers. However, we have work to do while we’re here. Just as God continues to preserve, protect, and provide for the world He will eventually burn with fire, so we are to continue to fill and rule the world we will all-too-soon have to leave.
Love the world?
In fact, surely Christians who are most conscious of how brief and tenuous their pilgrimage here is, will be the most zealous to make the most of their time and opportunities to serve their fellow pilgrims, many of whom are in total ignorance of what this world is all about and have no thought of preparing for the world to come.
Creativity will only flourish where there is a love for this material world, a positive involvement with this material world, and a commitment to live fully here while longing for our eternal home.
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