“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
Because of our human nature, we walk through our life loving the world and the things in it. We love culture, music, movies, experiencing college and even just life in general. These are all good things to love and partake in, yet in 1 John we see John using harsh words against loving the world and even going as far as saying if you love the world, then the love of the Father is not in you. So how do we take this and what does this mean?
First, we must understand that John is not rejecting the world, for we know that God loved the world (John 3:16). So certainly John isn’t telling us to hate the world, but instead is warning us to not be devoted to things of this world that aren’t devoted to God.
Also, John isn’t warning us against everything in the world, but gives examples of things in the world we should guard against, such as desires of the flesh in verse 16. Human desires are a part of how God created us and are therefore not all inherently bad, yet our desires become evil when they are not rooted in Christ. For example, God created us with desires to not be alone and to be in community with one another; however, the relationships that I have with people can directly affect my faith if I’m putting them before the Lord.
John also speaks of how temporary the world is (vs. 17). He says that “the world is passing away along with its desires,” meaning that this world will not last forever. So things that we’re clinging to and loving on earth are fleeting and worthless; however, the will of the Lord is eternal.
So what does all this mean? Should we love the world or not? I think that John is clearly calling us to not love the evil things of the world, the sinful nature of the world, the things in the world that are temporary and will pass away, but instead to love the world in the way God does. Love the goodness in the world; the beauty and glory of the Lord that you see in music, film, creation and culture. Love the things of the world that are eternal, not the temporary things that are here today and gone tomorrow. Don’t just love the world, but love the Creator who made the world and all that is in it.
“Hold fast to Christ. For you he became temporal, so that you might partake of eternity.” – Augustine