1 John 2:15-17
“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 lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
I love pizza!!!! I really do. After living in Italy for 3 years, I now have a new understanding of pizza. Though I do not care for the fast pizza chains, there are still some quality hand tossed, oven fired, great pizzas out there. We all know when I say that I love pizza, I am merely stating a preference of food. However, in our passage today, love is clearly defined in an economy of life philosophy that is critical for believers to understand.
John presents a contention for us all to consider. We either love the world or we love God. He displays this by pitting the two in contrast with each other using the standard Greek format of protasis and apodosis, or an if then statement. Broken down in the comparisons, it looks like this.
Loving the world vs. Loving the Father
Things of the world vs. Not of the Father
Lust of the flesh Denying addictive pleasure
Lust of the eyes Contentment
Pride of life Boasting in God
All in the world is passing vs. He who does God’s will abides forever
The overarching categories of comparison is loving the world or, not and loving the Father. When John uses the word “world” in this context he is speaking of the philosophy of the world system relating to individual’s perspective on how to live life. It is easy to see that this same philosophy is prevalent in today’s culture, society, and world. The pursuit of addictive physical pleasures overwhelms our society. “We should be endorsed and protected to pursue this addiction, just because we can choose to.” Countries give free addiction recovery drugs to people, but not to those with life threatening diseases…Huh?! Second, covetousness abounds. The desire to have what is not mine nor reasonable to attain drives people’s mind. Whether it is clothing style, another person, a car, boat, home, social status…all these things cause us to pursue materialistic things. When we do this we are loving the world system of caste admiration. We live our lives pursuing things that we think make us look better in other people’s eyes or opinions. When we think we arrived we transition to the boasting in our accomplishments, things, and status. We talk about what car we have, how skinny we are, or who we rub shoulders with. We try to influence others by claiming a status of power from what we posses whether honestly or in debt.
In God’s economy this doesn’t work. Scripture shows us to not be enslaved by addictions, to be content, and to boast in God’s activity in our life. This passage reminds me of couple of things Jesus said.
In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus answers a question of inheritance admonishing them to avoid covetousness. He goes on to tell a parable of a covetous rich man. The crux of the rich man’s demise is this statement, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” That night God took his life to eternity. James in his epistle, rebukes the rich in chapter 5:1-6. He tells them their attainments are not genuine. Both passages warn agains stockpiling up treasure for self.
In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6, Jesus admonishes to not store up treasures in heaven but on earth. More than that, he goes on to correctly display that where a person’s values are is where is life philosophy, effort, and pursuits will be. So too, John is warning us not to pursue the temporal pleasures of today, but the eternal pleasure of a relationship with God through his Son.
Where is your heart? Is it stuck in selfishness, covetousness and boasting? These things won’t satisfy your craving for eternal bliss, contentment, and significance. Only a relationship with God can satisfy such a vacuum of despair. Turn to Jesus…Just a few thoughts…