Today's passage from John's first letter serves as a good reminder to all of us about how we should relate to “the world" that is, the non-Christian environment that we live in. While we live and breathe, we have no choice but to live in the world. In general, the world, that God created, is good or, at least, that is how He intended it to be. However, this world has been tainted by sin. While there is still beauty and much that is good in the world, we must remember, by the grace of God, that the world's goals and values are not those of Christ, and should not be those of his followers.
Verse 15 begins with a command “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him”. In other words, the reason you shouldn’t love the world is that you can’t love the world and God at the same time. Love for the world pushes out love for God, and love for God pushes out love for the world.
I am sure most of us know that we shouldn’t love the world. But its pull is strong, and there is always temptation. It is much easier to read than is to live that command in v15. We can see the world. We can’t see God. Given both options, we tend to gravitate towards what we can see. John recognizes this. So, he gave us reasons not to love the world : (v16) Do not love the world because the world is opposed to the Father, (v17) Do not love the world because the world is passing away.
In v16 “For everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one's possessions--is not from the Father, but is from the world”. What John has in mind when he speaks of “the things of the world”: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride of life. I am sure that everyone can see how these things are important to “the world”. We see evidences of it everyday on tv, in movies and on social media. The Christian’s desire should be for God, and pleasing Him. So the Christian should never be consumed with such things.
The first part of v17 says, “The world and its desires pass away”. You wouldn’t buy stocks in a company that is sure to go bankrupt, would you? Nothing of the world will last forever. The world is fading away! To set your heart on it is only asking for heartache and misery in the end. And the second part of the verse says, “But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever." The opposite of loving the world is not only loving the Father (v15) but is also doing the will of the Father (v17). So, If you love God, you will love what he wills.
As John reminds us in v17, these desires are fleeting. Our souls, on the other hand, are eternal. We should devote our lives to things that matter, things that will last, rather than things that are not only sinful, but only for the moment. All of our desires may provide us with temporary satisfaction, but they do not last. Only in Christ do we find eternal fulfillment for our souls. Our way out of worldliness is to go deeper into God's love. Jesus is not asking us to give up our joy. He's telling us to go in. The Bible promises that whatever it costs us in this life will be a trade we will not regret for the rest of our lives. We will face tribulation in this world if we obey this command. But don't despair; Jesus has triumphed over the world!
Lord, thank you for reminding us that this world is temporary. Too often I put energy and effort pursuing worldly things. I put my trust in things that will wash and fade away. Forgive me, Lord. I pray that you will give me a longing for things not of this world, but for heaven above. Help me to fulfill your will for me in this world and teach me how to go deeper into your love. Amen.