Slipping the Hold

For all our Kuyperian talk about culture and cultural advances and the importance of the things of earth, we do want to take seriously God’s warnings about worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. One brick-through-the-window sort of warning comes in 1 John 2.

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. (1 John 2:15)

The command is clear and so is the conclusion. Love the world or love God the Father, but don’t believe that both loves can coexist. Love your wife or love your mistress, it’s not a question of percentages. Saying, “I love you most” to your wife isn’t sufficient.

But, without trying to slip the hold of the warning, what exactly is the “world”? Genesis gives glory to God for creating it. Even most unbelievers know John 3:16, penned by the same author, which says that God loved the world. So we’re not supposed to love what He made and loves?

It would be inconsistent if we read verse 15 the wrong way. The easiest way to read it wrong is to read it without reading the next verse.

For all that is in the world—-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—-is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:16)

John has defined his terms and explained what he meant by the word “world” and “the things in the world.” The people and the stuff in the world aren’t the problems, the mindset of the world is.

The mortal flesh is fine. Eating and drinking are good and ways to glorify God until sensual pleasures rule us. The the “desires of the flesh” are corrupt. It’s similar with the eyes. Eyes are God’s idea. He wanted us to see so that we could avoid walking into walls and also to paint beautiful things to hang on the walls. But He does not want us to see and lust to grab what is our neighbor’s. Those are worldly desires. Owning things is also good, land and houses, flocks and 403(b)s. But it’s not fine if we say that that is our life, as if our pile of possessions could define our image rather than the Father who gave us His.

We must not love a world where we make stuff the god. We must also not love a God who didn’t make and give us stuff in the world.