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Saturday, May 09, 2009

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15

In general, the term "the world" speaks of an ordered, as opposed to a chaotic, system. In Scripture it can have three possible meanings, determined by the context where it is used. It can mean the physical earth (Jn.21:25). It can also mean the human race, mankind (Jn.3:16). But predominantly it has ethical import, i.e. the human race in its alienation from and opposition to God. In the above verse, John has in view the world of humanity steeped in sin and dominated by the Evil One. (1Jn.5:19)

John then gives three reasons why such a prohibition is crucial. I've spent some time considering the first reason (15b "the love of the Father is not in him"). In the Greek construction, there are three possible meanings for "the love of the Father":
1. the love that comes from the Father [Source]
2. the Father's love for the individual [Subjective]
3. the individual's love for the Father [Objective]

Considering the immediate context, "love of the Father" is opposite "love for the world". Therefore, I would lean towards the 3rd definition, it is speaking of the individual's "love for the Father". But... since our love for the Father is the result of His love for us (1Jn.4:19), there could be a sense of the 2nd definition underlying the immediate context.

John is saying that love for the Father & love for the world cannot hold mutual sway in the same human heart. [cf. Mt.6:24] For a believer, love for the Father is the motivating force in his heart & life. And therein lies the challenge. God created man to be a worshiper. If he does not worship God, then he is worshiping something else. Quite often the object itself is amoral. It's his attitude towards it, his love of it, the placing of that object above the things of God that is the problem. For an unbeliever that is to be expected. But for a believer it is gross sin to love something more than God.

That brings me to an observation I made while doing errands yesterday. It has long been a habit in our family to read bumper stickers and vanity plates on people's cars. I was idly doing so as I crept around Derry and Londonderry. Then it hit me... we advertise our idols on the outside of our cars for the world to see! In our culture we publicly declare our "love", our "idol" to everyone. What kind of things do people in our part of the cosmos worship? Take a look the next time you're out driving ... everyone is promoting his own personal idols!

And that brings me to a personal challenge... what or who is foremost in your own life? Is it your children and their "honor roll" status? Is it your sports team? Is it your hobby? Is it some type of exercise? Is it your car? Is it your "social cause"? Is it the environment? Is it your pet? Is it some media figure? Is it your pet peeve? Is it your politics? All of those things are amoral in themselves. It's our love of them, our elevation of them in our heart that becomes sinful. Is there something you love more than God? Where is your time devoted? Where is your money devoted? What do you tend to talk about the most? What thoughts fill your head when your mind is on "idle"? What bumper sticker would God put on the outside of your car?