by John White
135 pages / 1990 (originally 1982)
John White's books have appeared multiple times in this blog. This one is non-fiction, a look at some of the ways that Christians can, knowingly or not, flirt with the world, all the while thinking that it's our less mature brothers and sisters who are guilty.
White's preface reveals a bride-to-be who's living with her boyfriend, Mundo (Latin for World), while still bragging about her engagement to her fiance (Christ). After looking at multiple ways in which this ugly triangle has played out - and still does play out - in the church (the bride) for twelve chapters, White ends on a hopeful note with the bride marrying the groom with sobs of repentance - inviting us as individuals, and as churches, to do the same.
Here are some of the warnings along the way:
- Avoid straining at gnats (bragging about our own moral scruples - like abstaining from alcohol) while swallowing camels (violating clear Biblical ethics - as in shady business deals).
- Examine our values revealed in our retirement plans and practices, as well as in our desire for entertainment in our worship - values that can cause us to miss the real power of Jesus Christ for life and worship.
- As a psychologist himself, White was well qualified to warn about the stress on the self that distorts the message of the gospel - an especially timely warning for our time, in which people believe that their own subjective understanding, rather than God's work (both in creation and in redemption), defines their identity.
- Let the clear exposition of the gospel - first in doctrine and only then in application - be the stimulant for growth in godliness - but to continue growing...
- We need true fellowship, the kind fostered in small groups (for which White explains several benefits and practical methods).
- Finally, when we catch ourselves flirting with the world, we need not to merely resolve to do better, but to truly repent - confess our sin, and seek God's help in changing - as does the bride in his analogy.