Scripture: 1 John 2:15-17
Observation: John warns against loving this world and the things in it, for that love will draw you away from a relationship with God.
Application: Let’s have some real talk here for a minute. John just spent a chapter and a half telling us to love others in the world around us, and now he tells us not to love the world and the things it offers. Hmmm…
He told us to live in the light, obey God, love as Jesus did. And when you take a quick read through the gospels, you find that Jesus didn’t hate the world, right? He didn’t hide out and avoid it; he sure seemed to enjoy boating and going to weddings and having dinner with friends – all things in this world. So, John, is it time for an intervention? Are you bi-polar or just kind of confused?
When I started untangling this passage, I remembered something a friend told me just a few months after I put my faith in Jesus: “You have to live in this world, but not of this world.”
God created the world we live in – the sun, the sea, the wind, the rain, the forests, the trees, the animals, and the people we call our family, our friends. He infused the world he created with beauty and a perfection that could only come from his artistic touch.
But, through the choices of Adam and Eve, sin entered the world and sin polluted the perfection God created.
“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
Since that moment in time, sin has continued to pollute this world with unspeakable violence, terrorism, deception, evil of every kind. Sometimes the evil of this world is televised worldwide, allowing us to believe we’re unified as we change the filter of our social media profile pictures to show support for the latest victims and proclaim that “all lives matter.”
But, sometimes the evil of this world is much more subtle – yet arguably just as dangerous. As John says, the world offers “a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.” (verse 16)
In everyday life, this looks like our human instincts getting the best of us. It’s convincing ourselves that our lives would be better if only we had this or had finally mastered that. It looks like trusting in ourselves, our own knowledge and skills, rather than trusting in God. It looks like selfish ambition that we attempt to disguise as selfless servanthood. It looks like sin – rarely as clear as the sin of the violent terror that filled our screens all summer, but sin just the same. It’s sin that separates us from our living God, sin that destroys.
We get all twisted in our sin and deceit, convinced that it’ll somehow create a future worth living for. But truthfully, it’s all temporary – what we build, create, and produce here on our own isn’t lasting. The only thing that will last is our relationship with God our Father, creator and sustainer of the universe.
“And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.” (verse 17)
So just like Jesus, we must live in the world. We can’t be a light in this world if we attempt to avoid it and hide out from it. We must clothe ourselves in the confidence of Christ Jesus and let his light shine through us, a beacon of hope in stifling darkness. We can enjoy boat rides and weddings and dinners with friends, doing life with the people God created to surround us with. We can enjoy what God has created while separating ourselves from what we have manufactured. We simply need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and our hearts knitted to what pleases him. When we do, our reward will be great, far better than anything this world can offer us.
“For anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (verse 17)
Prayer: God, I pray I can live as light in this world, but not get caught up in the things of this world. I pray you’ll protect me, show me my sin where the world has convinced me it’s acceptable, and allow me to spread your love in this world of darkness. Amen.
- Is there any part of this world that you're clinging onto? How can you submit that part of your life to God?
- Where have you developed pride in your achievements or possessions? (verse 16)