Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

25 Years Reflections 02

At first I suppose it was a little like the previous pastorates of the 50s and 60s. My 4 predecessors all came as young evangelical men, single or newly married, fresh from theological college and served 4-7 years then moved on to other things. Well, after 5 years I married. Eleri felt similarly to me about London. By then I'd actually got to like the place a bit and I assured here she would too – give it 5 years or so. Having a Welsh speaking school nearby has helped I'm sure – there are parts of Wales where you might speak less Welsh. The boys, of course, are actually Londoners and they certainly like it.
Anyway fast forward another 20 years and here we are today. By this time I really like London and can see clearly this was God's plan all along. I'm now more like the first 3 ministers here who served for 25, 35 and 25 years respectively. Although I must make clear that it is not that I've been preaching for 25 years to the same people. Far from it. In fact only four of those who originally called me are still with us now - Lilian, Ken, Mike and Ali. They are among the finest people I know. Others, equally fine, for a variety of reasons have moved on. One of the frustrations over the years has been the high price of housing and the difficulty some have had living near the chapel. With all the various changes our membership has continued to hover somewhere between 25 and 30. These have been happy though in many ways difficult years. At such a time it is right to reflect on the ministry and I just want to make a few more remarks before closing.
1. Firstly, let me say how thankful to God I am to be celebrating 25 years as pastor. It may not seem much of a thing but many men are kept from it for various reasons. I'm thankful for the health to have done it. Since I became a Christian I've only been ill twice on a Sunday. When I was 17 I had a bad attack of asthma and once some time in the 80s I was sick and Steve Mitchell (the elder here) preached instead of me. If I'm going to be ill I try to be ill on a Tuesday if I can - my official day off.
Some men find the mental strain too much. When it gets too much for me I tend to switch off and go to sleep. I do remember one crisis here where I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I decided to look up nervous breakdown in the medical dictionary but it said that there's no such thing, which I though was rather unfair.
I'm also thankful that the Lord has kept me from serious doctrinal error or from a public moral fall. That is entirely God's grace. Some men go into para-church work which it seems to me can be a temptation. In other cases the church simply can't afford to keep a man on or there are splits over various issues. I'm thankful that we have been kept so much from all these.
2. One does feel slightly fraudulent. Although there have not been so many obvious public failures and sins one feels very guilty when it comes to secret duties, especially prayer. I have to confess that there has been a lack of prayer and even a relative neglect of the Word sometimes. No doubt there would be more to celebrate if I had been more faithful here.

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