Read - 1 John 2:15
Message - Alan Burke
You will have no doubt seen it at accident black spots, on poles round the country side, on t-shirts, hoodies, sandwich boards, on lovely ornamental pieces in homes, I’ve even seen it on a tattoo. Any ideas? Well it’s likely one of the best known verses in scripture and it is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV). ‘God so loved the world’! Today we look not to John 3:16 but 1 John 2:15, what is striking is that John tells us “Do not love the world or the things in the world”. How on earth does this square with John 3:16, God loved the world and we are not to love the world. Let’s think briefly about what John emphasises in the gospel of John and what is emphasised here in this letter. The emphasis in John 3:16 is on the remarkable love, incredible love that God showed towards a corrupt and sinful world, Paul make the point in Romans (5:6-8), that the Love of God is seen in how Christ died for the ungodly, while we were still sinners. The emphasis of world is on the human race, God’s love for his creatures, made in his image, that he gave his Son to save it. Yet here the word ‘world’ has a different emphasis, look to 1 John 5:19; "we know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
John as he speaks to believers, is telling them that as children of God that their love should not be focused on that which is under control of the evil one. As he had spoke of in chapter one, that which is in darkness, a world that is ultimately hostile towards God and his people, that is opposed to the truth, for it is under the control of Satan. Yes we should love the people of the world enough to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the Love of God with them but we should not love the morally of this corrupt world that opposes God and his followers, that seeks to tempt his followers into sin. The epistle of James reminds us that friendship with the world is hatred towards God (4:4).
As believers we are in Christ, we escape the wrath of God, we have passed from death to life, we life in the light and not the darkness as John has already remind us in chapter 1 (5-10). Yet the inescapable truth is that we still are part of this world, even though this world is not our home, we are exposed to temptation as we await the coming of Jesus, after all although we cannot live by bread alone we cannot live without bread either. We are in the world and yet we are not to love this world. Should we start looking for some land for sale down the road, anyone know of anywhere where we could put a meetinghouse and a hundred or so families, set up a new community, cutting ourselves off from the world, renounce the trappings of the modern world we live in, become like the Amish in Pennsylvania? There may be part of us that thinks that sounds iddilic but that is not what we are to do. Instead what we are to do is to keep watch incase we fall into the trap that they become so enmeshed in the world around us that we are no different than it. Because if we love the world we are really showing that the Father is not in us as we are to love God above all else (Mk 12:30).
What do the scriptures principally teach?
The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man. (2 Tim. 1:13, 2 Tim. 3:16)