Loving the World

1 John 2:15-17

15 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. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. What does that mean? Is it a call to dislike all people and all things that are not God himself? No. But the call not to love the world is a call not to center your life around that which is ungodly. The desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life are things from the world. These are not to be our focus, our center, our joy.

The desires of the flesh can be obvious—e.g. sex, drink, laziness. Many things that fit the desires of the flesh are not ungodly things if in their proper context. Sex is good in the bonds of biblical marriage—one man covenanted to one woman for love and companionship for life. Drink is not evil until it moves one to drunkenness or does harm to the life of another. Rest is not wrong until it becomes sloth. But when we become enslaved to physical desires for anything, we are lusting for things above the Maker and Giver of all good things. Then we are in trouble.

The desire of the eyes can go right along with the desire of the flesh. Sometimes in our world people let their eyes and their imaginations take them where their flesh is not able or willing to go. Thus, it can be all the same categories. But ask yourself where else your eyes lead you away from the Lord. A lust for entertainment can walk you away from God. A hunger to see what should not be seen can destroy. Even an imbalanced hunger to see beauty, if it dominates your life, is deadly. For example, the person who lives life for vacation, for seeing the next mountain vista, historical site, or glorious gallery, if that desire is not held in proper check, may well be living for the desire of the eyes.

Pride of life contains anything that exalts ourselves or our desires in this life above the Lord. Where do you put yourself forward? Where do you demand to have things your way? Where do you boast in who you are or what you can do? Where do you fear that others will not see you and your greatness? Where are you dominated by the opinions of others? Where do you clamor for attention? Where do you think you are great, better than others, deserving more than God has given you?

Loving what we can feel, can see, or simply what we want others to think of us is so easy. And it is deadly. Loving these things is a love of the world that, if we are not careful, may prove to us that we do not love the Lord we claim to follow.

What is the solution here? Is it guilt? Is it self-loathing? No. The solution here is to set our eyes on Jesus. Set your minds on things above. Love the Lord. Know and honor the Father. Think about eternity. Live for a glory that is to come and not the pride and experience of the here and now. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a nice meal or a vacation, but an honest person focused on the word of God can see when he or she is given too much to the things of this world. An honest evaluation will help you see whether your vacation is a God-honoring rest or a this-worldly demand to build your travel resume so that others will be awed by your accomplishments.

We need to love the Lord. He is glorious and kind. The Father has loved us. All who know Jesus have been given to him by the Father as a gift. We are made into children of God. Our hope is in the Lord who loves and saves us. Our purpose, our value, our meaning is found as we magnify him. Yes, God has made all things, sights and experiences, and shown us how we can honor him when those things are either properly experienced or properly declined. But nothing will truly match the soul-satisfying joy of actually, honestly wholeheartedly loving and following our God.