Monday, March 21, 2011

Love the World? NOT!

What Do You Love?

Read: I John 2:15-17 Pray

Trans: “Love,” they say, “is a many splendored thing.”

  1. We don't really understand that in English – with a single word “love” to mean so many things. “I love this pen” is said as easily as “I love this book” or “I love chicken baked in French fried onions” or “I love my dog” or “I love my wife.”

  2. One of the things I like about Greek is they have at least three words for “love”. Some of you have been a member of the church for many years and may have heard this before, but others may not be familiar with the various words meaning “love” in the Greek.

    1. The first is easy “eros” - human, physical love. It is never used in scripture.

    2. The second is “phileo” - friendship, sibling love. We see the word in the name of a city in Eastern Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

    3. The last word is the most important Greek word for love, “agape” - it is the only word used to describe the kind of love that God has for us.

    4. A good illustration of how these two words are found in a conversation Jesus has with Peter after the resurrection. You will remember that Peter denied Jesus three times on the day of his crucifixion. During the 40 days that Jesus lives here after His resurrection he pulls Peter aside and has a conversation. In English, the conversation seems odd – but it takes on other meanings. (John 21:15-19)

T.S. John begins today's selection with a very clear command: Do not love the world. Within the three verses John provides us three reasons that for doing just that.

  1. The first reason is that the believer cannot love God and the World a the same time.

    1. Jesus had said it 50 years earlier, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matt. 6:24)

    2. John says almost the same thing, “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.” (I John 2:15)

    3. Something does seem weird – for many of us, our favorite verse is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world ...” Wait a minute, were we not just commanded, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.

    4. Jesus, shortly before his crucifixion, reminded his disciples that though they were in the world, they were not of the world – in fact the world would hate them.

    5. Our call is to love God, to love the world that God created, and to love the people that God has created. But we are not to love the world or the things of the world. We cannot love the world and love God at the same time.

(Ill.) It was a young college student who had come to Jesus on campus who noted that there was a difference of one letter. She was speaking to a friend and politely told her, “You love love the world, but I love the word. It is only different by one letter, but that one letter, makes a grand difference in whom we love.”

    1. The world can be thought of as many things – it could be our community, it could be our family, it could be our church – but if we love any of it more than God, then our lives are out of balance.

    2. But to John the meaning is something else altogether – for John world does not refer to people; rather, it refers to the philosophy, the mentality, the outlook, of the people among whom we love. And, even then, we cannot love those attitudes and behaviors more than we love God.

  1. The second reason Christians are not to love the world is that the world is not God's realm.

    1. We have no problem understanding that Heaven will be our home. But that is only because it is also God's home.

    2. Listen again to the words of John, “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

    3. John gives us three key symptoms of being in love with the world:

      1. The desires of the flesh – other translations put it as, “cravings or the flesh”. John's words refer to the desire, the cravings that we as humans have for much that the world has to offer. It might be a better car, it might be tastier food, it might be more influential friends.

(Ill.) One group of people that greately influenced John Wesley as when he first began to understand the meaning of faith was the Moravians – The Moravians have a prayer that helps us to understand what John was getting at, “From the desire of being great, good Lord deliver us!”2

(Ill.) God also said it 1100 years earlier as he carved the 10 Commandments into stone for Moses - “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

      1. The desires of the eyes – Someone has said, “The eyes are the gateway to a man's soul.” It becomes easy to see something and we want it. TV ad men know this. We see an ad on TV – we have got to have it. Doesn't matter if it is a new car or a cleaning product or some new toy for the kids. Yesterday, Wesley was over at the house and he picked up a catalog of clearning products that comes in the mail. His first response was boy these look neat. Our eyes can direct our minds – and the extent to which that happens, it is a measure of our love of the world.

      1. Pride in possessions – I brag about some of my stuff. I brag about my 300 coffee cups – without drinking any coffee. I brag about my wife. I brag about our dog. But when those things get in the way of my relationship with God, then I am off kilter – I need to get back on track and reconnect with God. I doubt if I am alone.

      2. I doubt if this list is exaustive – I expect there are other symptoms of putting the world before God. But if we start with this list, we will have a good tool for measuring whether we are putting God first or whether we are putting the world first.

    1. And God is not in these things. And that is why having a love for the world and its ways is not what God wants from us.

  1. The third reason we are not to love the world is that it will all pass away.

    1. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (I John 2:17)

    2. The world will pass away. Its desires will pass away.

(Ill.) In Physics there is a law that says everything naturally decays. It's called the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. We see it all the time – our clothes wear out, fruits and vegitables go bad, our bodies wear down. In nature it may be erosion, or land slides, or earthquakes. Everything eventually decays. We see in practice the very principle that John is talking about.3

    1. Wouldn't you rather love something that will not change. And that which does not change is that which is God's.

    2. And that is what we are called to truely love.

Conclusion: Pray


1Tan, Paul Lee. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996.

2Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


No comments: