But “Loving the world” sounds a positive thing! The beautiful sunset, the cute kitten, the amazing full breakfast, the incredible variety of possibilities of things to relish.
It’s the very stuff of Facebook.
And every supermarket magazine rack reminds us of the things we (we the people of the Western world) consider important.
In contrast, doesn’t the Bible strike a somewhat grumpy note?
“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.” 1 John 2:15-16
That word “lust” repeated thrice sounds alarming! So here’s Peterson’s slightly muted version:
“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”
It’s easy to misunderstand the word “world.” We are not being encouraged to hate a natural environment that is, in fact, full of beauty. God created all of it and pronounced it “good.” I remember a song that started:
“Over all the earth
You reign on high
Every mountain stream
Every sunset sky…”
This world is undeniably lovely.
When the writer uses the word “world” in the verse above, however, he’s talking about something else. He’s talking about a philosophy of life that drowns out God, that fails to recognize the One who reigns over all of it, that fills up our minds and senses with bits and pieces of stuff that is here today and gone tomorrow.
And all this stuff just isolates us from what life is all about.
I always found C.S Lewis very good at clarifying the problem. Here he is:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ― C.S. Lewis
Help me Lord, to look more deeply at the way I use my time today and to consider the things that dominate my thinking, so that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–to think about such things.” (Phil 4:8)