1 John 2:15-17, The Love of the World
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” ~ 1 John 2:17
Throughout the story of Scripture and redemptive history (God’s gracious actions on behalf of his people), one thing is sure: The love of the world and the things of this world will be the downfall of God’s people. As Israel was preparing to enter the land of Canaan, God pronounced upon them blessings for obedience to his law along with curses for disobedience. Specifically, he charged Israel to be careful not to adopt the customs or the idols of the nations to which they were going. They were his chosen people and they were to live their lives in light of what he had already declared to be true of them. Take for example the following charge from Moses to Israel in Deuteronomy 7:
“And he (God) will give kings into your hand, and you shall make their name to perish under heaven. No one shall be able to stand against you…The carved images you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, let you be ensnared by it…” ~ Deuteronomy 7:24-25
The love of the world, the shiny objects of life, would ensnare Israel to the point where they will be indistinguishable from the surrounding nations. Blessed to be a blessing, Israel instead became a stench to world. The Love of the Father was no longer in them.
Through years of exile, the Father would call them back to faithfulness and bring them back into their homeland with a restored temple. The temple though, the center of Israel’s worship, would become an idol, used to exclude those of low social and religious standing. Once again, the love of an object made by the hands of man would draw the people further away from the love of God.
What they needed most was a renewed and restored understanding of the greatest commandment. What they needed was a return to an all-consuming love for God and love for neighbor. And so, God, being a God of steadfast love, showed them his all-consuming love by sending the embodiment of love, his Son, Jesus. In Jesus, Israel would witness a prophet, calling them back into faithfulness to their God. In Jesus, Israel would have a priest, who would make once-for-all atonement for sin, reconciling them to Father. In Jesus, they would be given a king who would fight for them, battling the spiritual forces of evil and overcoming the world. He came that we may have life and life abundantly. He called us to be “in the world, but not of the world.”
Christians find their hope, not in the things of this world, accomplishments, possessions, experiences or even making memories with our children, as joyous as these things can be. We find our hope in the God who abides with us even as the world seems to be passing away around us. We find our hope in Christ, who loves us and has given himself for us. We find our hope in the Holy Spirit, who counsels and comforts us even as our worldly comforts slowly fade and erode.
“The things of this world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life” will eventually pass away. We are experiencing just a taste of this now in our current situation. But this is not the end of the story. God himself will be with you always as your God and you and I will be with Him as His people. May the love of the Father abide in you always. He is faithful. He will surely do it.