Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World edited by C.J. Mahaney is a book that demands attention. The content is a necessary read for any lover of Jesus. It forces the reader to think, discern, and struggle in prayer with each turn of the page. The book gets a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars.
After the reader finishes a five-chapter wrestling match over defining worldliness, media, music, possessions, and clothes the final chapter can come as a shock. How to Love the World. The author of this chapter, Jeff Purswell, addresses the possible feeling that the Christian life is one of negation.
Discernment is…crucial. However, to read the message of this book as a call to avoidance is to misunderstand it. It would be tragic indeed if we ignored, diluted, or otherwise marginalized the command this book began with: “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). It would be equally tragic if we defined our relationship with the world simply in terms of negation. For John’s Gospel affirms both God’s love for the world (John 3:16) and his intention that we be in the world (John 17:18). (p 140)
Purswell does a great job of laying out how to love the world from a biblical worldview. He gives an short “biography” of the history and future of the world. In that context he lays out three tasks for Christians: (1) Enjoy the World, (2) Engage the World, (3) Evangelize the World. In a masterful stroke, the author brings us to “The World and the Cross”:
In navigating these polarities [having “strictly spiritual preoccupations” and “relishing life in this world”], a different moment in salvation history dominated the apostle Paul’s horizon: “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14). For Paul, the cross was the singular, decisive, existence-altering reality of his life. No category of Paul’s existence remained untouched by Christ’s atoning death on his behalf. (p 169)
When we see our lives in light of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross, everything will be different. We won’t be enamored of a fallen world that opposes God; for it is such a world that our Savior died. Nor will we ignore the world, untouched by its God-glorifying potential or unmoved by its needs. Rather, we’ll take our place in this world, enjoying God’s gifts, fulfilling God’s purposes, and giving our lives to see the gospel proclaimed, sinners saved, and God glorified. (p 171)