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Scorn the World?

Worldly ways, that is.

The Celtic Revival: Celtic Christian Worldview (8)

Who can satisfy God in the last times
when the noble rules of truth have changed,
save for those who scorn this present world?

  - Colum Cille, Altus Prosator (6th century)[1]

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

  - 1 John 2.15

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

  - James 4.4

Now here is an apparent dilemma: We have seen that Celtic Christians had a very high regard for creation and everything in the world. They understood that God created the world, and that He loves it so much He gave His only-begotten Son for its restoration. God shows His goodness to us through the world, and He has appointed His people as stewards and caretakers of His creation, to maximize its potential for glorifying Him.

And yet here is Colum Cille, that great spokesman and exemplar of Celtic Christianity, telling us that the only way to satisfy God is to “scorn this present world.”

What can he mean?

Colum means only what John and James meant, that the present world of these latter days is the platform on which worldviews proliferate where “the noble rules of truth have changed.” Men have exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and the knowledge of God for mere self-interest. The “present world” of which Colum and the apostles wrote is the world of fallen men and their wicked ways – relationships that are engaged out of mere self-interest; cultures that promote rebellion against God and His truth; institutions which sanction evil as though it were good, and position themselves as the final arbiters of truth and goodness.

There is no room in the Christian worldview for such a world, where the goodness of God and the purposes of His glory are replaced by the self-serving ways of fallen men. Christians must put their full weight down on Christ and His Kingdom and have nothing to do with the ways of duplicity, deceit, and degeneration.

This does not mean that we must altogether avoid the culture of the world. Some of it, to be sure, since the sole purpose of some elements of culture is to gratify the lusts of the flesh. But we may use culture, just as Celtic Christians did, to further the Kingdom and righteousness of Christ. But we must use culture, laws, institutions, inventions, and technologies solely for Christ and not at all for self. We stay clear of those aspects of culture and society that deny God, degrade humankind, and despise the ways of the Lord. We seek nothing for ourselves from the world. Our sustenance, strength, and joy come from the Lord. We seek only to take captive every thought and every square inch of the world and its things for the glory of Jesus and the progress of His Kingdom (2 Cor. 10.3-5).

We scorn the present world of sin and seek the world to come. We take up our callings in life with a view to seeking and advancing the rule of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14.17, 18). As we do – in all we do – we embody the way of Jesus and proclaim His Kingdom to this present world.

We love God’s creation, and the ways His common grace brings beauty and goodness into the world; but we do not love this present world. Christians are the light of the world, to show the way out of the darkness of sin. We are the salt of the earth, to preserve whatever goodness may be known here against every corrupting influence. We are the leaven of the world, penetrating and spreading into every aspect of the world to bring the wholesome and transforming Presence of the life of Jesus Christ.

Only if we remain true to God and His creation, and if we scorn the present world, can we expect to realize more of the presence, promise, and power of Christ’s Kingdom.

If in any way the present world is clinging to us, let us be done with it, once and for all, and fix our minds on Christ and His coming Kingdom, so that through us He might continue His work of making all things new.

For Reflection
1. What does it mean for you to scorn this present world?

2. How will you bring the light and truth of the Kingdom into the world of your Personal Mission Field today?

Psalm 145.10-14 (Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want)
Your works shall thank You; all Your saints shall bless and praise You, Lord.
Your reign we bless without restraint; Your power fills our words.
Our children we shall educate in all Your splendor, Lord.

Your Kingdom evermore shall be; You reign forever, Lord!
Your works You do so faithfully, according to Your Word.
The falling You uphold and the oppressed You rescue, Lord!

Shine Your light through me, Lord! Salt and leaven my world with Your goodness! Let all that I touch, all that I do, and everywhere I am…

Glorifying God with Creation and Culture
Want to learn more about how to hear and see the Lord in the works of creation? Our book Consider the Lilies: A Plea for Creational Theology can help. Learn more about this book and order a free copy by clicking here. For a shorter version of the same, write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll send you a PDF of our study, The Glory of Kings. To learn how to use culture more for the glory of God, check out our books Redeeming Pop Culture and Christians on the Front Lines of the Culture Wars. You can learn more about each and order a free copy by clicking here and here.

Thank you
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.

If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter.
You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through Anedot or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore, Principal
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All Psalms for singing from
The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

[1] Carey, p. 49.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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