Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Love God? You Must Hate the World

Hate is a strong word. Often we don’t know what to do with it, and we’d rather not talk about it. It’s more comfortable to talk about love, and to think that true love vaporizes hate. After all, even the Beatles taught us to sing, “All we need is love”!

But in order to love, we must hate that which destroys love. For example, if we love children, we must hate child abuse. If we love all people, we must hate bigotry and racially motivated injustice. If we as men love the women in our lives, we must hate rape and any form of abuse or suppression of women.

And if we love God, we must hate the world. This truth may not be comfortable, but it’s true. Let’s take a few minutes and meditate on 1 John 2:15-17 and see what the Bible has to say about this.

Having affirmed those he loved so deeply, the Apostle John completes his train of thought with these words: “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. 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. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

John is seeking to woo his beloved friends away from the love of the world and toward the love of God. And if you’ll take a few minutes to read from 2:7 onward, you’ll see that the verses before us do not represent a break in John’s thought, rather, they complete his thought. To love the world is to hate God and others because it is to prefer the world over them. Therefore, if we’re to submit our lives to God and learn to love one another, we must die to our love of the world. We must experience such a great love for God that it expels all other loves from our hearts and habits.

Thus, John begins in verse 15 by admonishing us not to love the world for the one who loves the world, or the things of the world, does not have the love of the Father in him. John makes this absolute statement because, as he helps us see in verse 16, all the things that are in the world are designed to put us at the center of our lives. Our fleshly desires are all about gratifying our own cravings. Our fleshly contemplations are all about grasping with our hands what we see with our eyes. Our pride in possessions is all about hoping in this world and using what we have to position ourselves above others.

Whatever the particulars of the things of the world and our affections toward them, one thing is for sure—they push God to the side, put us in the center, and therefore they cannot be from the Father. Since they are not from the Father, those who love him must reject them.

And besides this, because of what the Father has done for us in Christ, because the light has come and the darkness is passing away, the things of the world are on their way out and no matter how satisfying they are in the short-term, they will disappear in the long-term and thus they’re not worth investing ourselves in.

In contrast to this, the one who looks to the sacrifice of Christ, who submits his or her life to God, learns to love his brothers and sisters and do the will of her Father, that one will abide forever (verse 17)—nothing is able to ultimately destroy the one who clings to God in Christ, and thus we ought to prefer fellowship with him over the love of the world.

Love God? You must hate the world. You must choose, for no one can serve two Masters (Luke 16:13).

May the Lord give us eyes to see, and hearts to prefer the treasure of knowing God over all the deceitful pleasures of this world. 

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