Live in the world: a warning from John (Part 2)

I love my car. I love my technology and gadgets. I love my food. I love my family. I love my friends. And let’s be honest, I’d struggle if God asked me to give up these things. I would, but it’d be hard. Yet, there are more subtle challenges and temptations as I seek to live in the world.

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. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
— 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)

In the previous post, I explored the concept of kosmos—the ’world’—in John. I concluded John understands it to mean that this earthly domain still remains under Satan’s influence. Let’s explore the implications and warnings from John’s words for the Christian who seeks to live by them.

Live in the world: do not love the world

The command is clear—do not love the world! Is it? Do we really get it? Do we understand what John is trying to say here? This world is under Satan’s order, arrangement, and influence. In many ways, it’s not hard to see his influence when we look at the programs on TV, the events on the news, the ’articles’ in the magazines. It’s easy for us to point the finger and say, “That stuff’s bad,” or “I don’t want anything to do with that!” Yet, I wonder how much of our lives truly reflects it. I don’t know about you, but I know how much my own mind is filled with the subtle influence of the world around me. I didn’t go out looking for it, it’s all around me, it bombards us each and everyday whether we like it or not.

Live in the world: the love of the Father

The danger, however, is whether we allow it to order and influence our hearts and minds. John says, “Do not love the world.” He also wrote, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” What does he mean? What is he saying to his readers? To us? Let’s look at John’s most well-known saying:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 (ESV)

John’s emphasis is on our relationship with God. If God loved us so much, why would we go and love the very things from which He freed us? If we are in relationship with God who gives us life to the full, why would we go and cheat with Satan, the evil one, who continues to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10)? I could go on, but I think the point is simple—do we love God? It’s not about how much we love God, just simply, do we love Him? In the next post, I’ll look at the rest of this passage and the temporal, finite nature of this world.