Calling a Worldly Church to a Godly Life


R. Kent Hughes

Crossway Books, 2003, 164 pp.


Kent Hughes, senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, says the church is called to Godliness and to reach the world.  The church must be distinct from the world to reach the world.  But today’s church is ensnared in materialism, hedonism, violence, sexual misconduct, pluralism, and divorce.  Hughes calls the church to say ‘no’ to worldliness and an immense ‘yes’ to Christ and all that he gives.


“A worldly church cannot and will not reach the world.”  “We must set ourselves apart to God if we hope to reach the world.  In a word, the only hope for us and the lost world is a holy church.” (17)


God made it clear to Moses that if Israel “‘will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Exodus 19:4-6).  As a kingdom of priests they would then offer sacrifices and intercede for the whole world.  What a stupendous designation—a kingdom of priest—every Israelite a priest to the Gentile nations!”  (17)


“The holiness of God was to be the example and motivation for God’s people to be set apart as holy, that they might reach the world.  This is a great theme in the book of Leviticus….” (18)


“Setting ourselves apart from the world so that we might reach the world is not so much a series of noes as much as it is an immense yes to Christ and all that he gives.” (22)


“Setting ourselves apart from materialism has everything to do with the spread of the Gospel among the nations.  We cannot be like the nations and at the same time a light to the nations.  A worldly church will not reach the world.”  (27)


“Those in the clutches of consumerism cannot practice stewardship.  To practice Christian stewardship means resisting the seductive voices…who tell us that we have to have everything new and now.  It means cultivating the Christian virtues of contentment, self-denial, and generosity.  The spiritual dividend is that untold resources will be freed for local ministry and world missions.  Imagine what such giving would do for your church and the world!” (34-5)


“When pleasure-seeking characterizes a person’s life, it invariably means an inversion of priorities.  Giving pleasure first place demeans and reorders every other priority.” (46)


“Today’s culture is controlled by inflicting pleasure, and we are part of that culture.  But as believers we must learn to say no to those pleasures that would draw us away from God, our family, our church, and those in need.”  (47)


“God wants us to be happy—in him.  God wants us to immerse ourselves in his pleasure by immersing ourselves in him.”  “God’s desire to be glorified and your desire to be satisfied are one!” (47)


“God calls us to moderation.  He calls us sometimes to embrace pain.  He calls us to receive pleasures rather than to seek them.  He calls us to forego some pleasures for his sake, and the sake of our families, and the sake of the church—and the world.” (48)


“The boundary between the real world and the virtual world is becoming increasingly unclear.” (52)  “Millions of Christians have been desensitized and sensualized as they sit passively night after night in prime time before lewdness and double entendre without the slightest twinge of conscience.” (54)


“God is debased on every side and in ways so subtle that Christians do not even take notice.  But their inner computers do—as a spirit of blasphemy infuses their soul.  Sometimes God’s holy name becomes the compulsive rhetorical filler in a Christian’s ever-emptying life.  But we must not forget God’s Word: ‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain,….’”  (55)


“Perhaps the most subtle of television’s evils is the promotion of worldviews that are sub-Christian and spiritually destructive.  Disney is no protection.”  (55)


“The church must be set apart in its viewing habits if it is to remain healthy.” (56) “As Malcolm Muggeridge…pointed out, when we are enticed to laugh about immorality, our resistance is weakened.”  “It is of utmost importance that we set ourselves apart from sensual input if we wish to have a witness to this lost world.”   “We must allow Christ to be Lord of our prime time.”  “…God detests immorality among his people—and…we ought to feel aversion and anger at the grip of sensuality on our culture.” (57-8)


“To claim to be Christian and yet not to feel emotional aversion when Christian moral standards are violated is, at best, to exhibit a kind of mental schizophrenia between our heads and hearts.  To feel no emotion about this means that we are captive to culture—that the media has got us—that we are worldly.  Get angry in the Lord!  But do not sin (cf. Ephesians 4:26).” (59)


“If you can’t control, it, through it out!  If the eye of your cathode tube offends you, tear it out.  Better to go through life with no TV than into hell with your remote in hand.” (59)


“God’s original intention for his people was that they reach out to the world, as was stated in his promise to Abram that he would make him a blessing and that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed through him (cf. Genesis 12:2-3).”  (151) 


“In the New Covenant, those of us who are ‘in Christ’ are duty-bound and empowered to fulfill the age-old calling of Israel to be ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light’ (I Peter 2:9)”  “We must say yes to him, and yes to his call to reach our lost world.” (152)


Appendix II includes websites for movie reviews, internet filters, and internet safety tips.


“Groucho Marx once said, ‘I find television very educational.  Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a book.’” (164)