Be Not Conformed
The Bible teaches that there is a wide gulf between the morals of the world and what a Christian should be. Christ and Satan are not in agreement, and thus the disciples of Christ and the servants of Satan do not see eye to eye. Expressed in several different ways in the Scripture is the commandment to be different from the world.
Jesus said the world would hate his disciples because they are not "of the world" (Jno. 15:19; 1 Jno. 3:13). Paul exhorted us to "be not conformed to this world" (Rom. 12:2). Further Paul declared, "we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world," having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:11-14).
One of the members of the church told me recently about attending a wedding supper at which every person present, except him and his wife and one other person, toasted the newlyweds with a "cocktail." The other three toasted the newlyweds with a glass of water. It would have been easy there to have become a conformist. But in so doing, one would have lost his identity as a Christian. He would have lost his peculiarity as a Christian (I Pet. 2:9).
Trench, in his SYNONYMS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, defines the word "world" used in Titus 2:12, "we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world." Trench says "world" here means "that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale."
The kind of moral atmosphere today in which we "inhale" and "exhale" is not a wholesome atmosphere. The moral climate in which we breathe is not healthy. Thus the Christian must be exceedingly careful where he goes, with whom he goes, and what he does, lest the image of Christ in him be blurred or blotted.
Even the moral climate of the religious world in which we "inhale" and "exhale" is not wholesome; The religious practices of some have become so degraded they incensed a political writer, Dean Manion, a few years ago, to say:
"We find the hootenanny mass being given in the Catholic churches these days, jazz mass in the Episcopal churches, ministers dancing in leotards instead of preaching the Sunday sermons, ministers surprising their congregations with nude dances instead of sermons, benefit balls for homosexuals are being given by ministers. One such ball was given in San Francisco by Cannon Robert Cromey, special assistant to Episcopal Bishop James A. Pike. Cromey said, 'Laws like this are silly (for homosexuals).' He continued, 'after people are 21 they should be able to have sexual relations with a lamp if they want to."
Manion also mentioned the obscene Chicago church, which held a "requiem to God who is a bum, smells, who carried a sign, and sits on the ground."
In, a world like ours, it certainly behooves the Christian to give careful attention daily that he "be not conformed to this world." Instead, we should be seen as lights in a world full of darkness; as wells of water in a barren waste land.
There is much difference between selflessness and selfishness. There are many statements in the Bible to commend the former (Phil. 2:4, 20, 21; Gal. 6:2) and many passages which condemn the latter. For two or three years now I have received much correspondence from gospel preachers and other brethren in the Philippines. The selflessness of most of those gospel preachers has been outstanding. My impressions of their unselfishness have not been founded upon what the men themselves have told me. Instead, it is based entirely upon word from others.
In some instances known to me, Filipino preachers have written to the congregation which was supporting them, and asked that a sizable portion of their support be sent to another preacher. Frequently, I am told by Filipino brethren about the "supported preachers" helping them, or paying their travel expense in order that they might assist in gospel work. These brethren often share with others the few religious books they own. One young preacher recently asked that $44.50 of his $100.00 monthly support be used to purchase some film-strips which he wanted to use in personal work. Much of the support received by gospel preachers goes into helping to erect a meeting house or a "chapel as they call it. One preacher recently devoted two month's pay to help put up a modest church building.
Many of these brethren are so desperately poor that they realize how much they need each other; they are so dependent upon one another. They must indeed care for each other in an unselfish way. Such selflessness is wonderful for us to consider and to emulate.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 25, pp. 3-4