I have a tendency to hoard. I’m not as a bad as I used to be, because I’ve come to learn one very important lesson: it might come in handy one day, but if I’m not using it now why hold on. Part of this realisation is the worth of materials. Do I really need to keep this box? Do I really need to keep this bit off my car? Do I really need to take up more space?
“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 of life—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)
Most people like things that are tangible. There are those who like the metaphysical perspective on things (like me), but I’m not most people. We like information provided by time and space. We like things we can see, hear, touch, smell, and (if you’re like me) taste. We like tangible.
Live in the world: the world is passing away
The Christian imperative ‘do not love the world’ is counterintuitive. John calls the Christian to realise the temporal and finite nature of this world—that is, ‘the world is passing away along with its desires.’
What we know of the world today will pass away. It will not be the same. It will be vastly different to what we know and understand. It will be all new:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
— Revelation 21:1 (ESV)
Live in the world: abiding forever
On the other hand, John writes that ‘whoever does the will of God abides forever.’ Like I said, we like tangible. How do you get your head around forever? I don’t know about you, but forever doesn’t sound all that great. What we need to remember though, the world will be completely different to what we know, so don’t think about forever in reference this life.
So that changes things a little, the command ‘do not love the world’ is different when we realise this world one day will pass away. God’s will is eternal and it’s the best place to be, simply because that’s where the action will be when this world passes away.
Postscript: enjoying God’s world
One final thought on John’s command ‘do not love the world.’ There is nothing in the command about stifling enjoyment of this present world. This is still God’s creation, imperfect as it may be. God is still sovereign, as broken as it may seem.
The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoying Him forever.
Westminster Catechism, Question 1.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying this life, but the danger is our love for it and not the One who gave us life. Our affections belong to our Lord and Saviour who takes us into eternity with Him.
If this is something you want to sink your teeth into I’d recommend John Piper’s book, Desiring God.
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