This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on April 12 2015.
“Do not love the world” (1 John 2:15) is a catch cry that is easy to affirm when we look at the lewdness and nastiness and greed and godlessness around us. But it characterises the ‘world’ in a negative way only. We must not love the world, but if we only consider it in its unlovely parts then this is not hard. We must not be duped into thinking this is what it means to not love the world.
Christ’s purpose for his people is that they ‘bear fruit’ (John 15:16). Simply put, ‘fruit’ is a biblical metaphor for ‘results’. Jesus expects to see us grow in godliness, deepen in grace, develop in gifts, and doing our part in shaping these things in the people around us. What we ought to watch out for is not simply the obviously sinful stuff out there in the world, but rather everything and anything that hinders us from bearing fruit (cf. Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). That means the good things also: Family. Education. Business. Health. Love. Work. Success. All these things are good things that we should aim to have and enjoy. But they are also the things that can be the most likely to hinder the spiritual growth of good and godly people. Our lives must be a quest for godliness and knowing God. If any single thing, good or bad, gets in the way of this, it is better that it be culled than cultivated.
“What good does it do a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his own soul?” (Matt 16:26). If you are successful in the world, never let this question cease to haunt you. I have many blessings in my life and am optimistic about my future – so I must take extra care. “Do not love the world.” Don’t do it.