To Love or Not Love the World – That Is the Question
I get a little flustered when it looks like scriptures contradict each other. Certain scriptures indicate that God loved the world. John 3:16 says He loved the world so much that he sent his son to die for it. Jesus came to save the world, not condemn it (John 3:17).
However, John said, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).”
Do the concepts of loving and not loving the world biblically conflict? I don’t think so.
What did God love about the world? When God created the world he said what he created was good. Nature, galaxies, animals, and so on – it was all good (Genesis 1:31). But I don’t think he died for nature or the sun, moon and stars. What does God love in this world? It has to be the people – you and me. That’s what he loved so much that he gave his only begotten son to die for.
What was John referring to when he said not to love the world? I don’t think he was referring to people, but rather the philosophy, mentality, outlook, priorities, attitudes, and behaviors that permeate society and influence people. These can actually lead us away from God. 2 Timothy 4:10 says that Demas loved the world so much he deserted Paul and went back to Thessalonica.
John goes on to say in 1 John 2:17, “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.”
Paul told us about the perils and pitfalls of falling prey to the enticements prevalent in today’s world: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (Galatians 5:19-21). These things can lead us astray and away from God’s path. And most of all – they can prevent us from loving God. 1 John 2:15 says that if we love the world, the love of God is not in us.
What does that mean? Does it mean that loving the world blocks God’s love for us? No. God loves us unconditionally. While we were yet sinners he died for us (Romans 5:8) and he will continue to love us forever. But having a wrong kind of love for the proclivities of the world blocks us from loving God as we should.
The bottom line is that we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 24:6). We either let God rule us, or we let the world rule us. And when we serve the philosophies of this world we are building on a foundation that will eventually pass away. The desires of the world pass away, but the man who does God’s will and loves him, lives forever (1 John 2:17).
So do we love the world? Yes! We love God’s creation and we love the people, but we don’t love the detrimental influences of the world because it impacts our lives in a negative way. It will keep us from drawing closer to God. In fact, it will prevent us from loving the people in the world Jesus died for.