1 John 2:15-17 makes clear one command—“do not love the world or the things in the world.”
We are Christians and love is a big deal. God has designed it that love be central to our identity (1 John 2:10-11; John 13:34-35). We are to be gripped by God’s love for us and moved by our love for others. And the thing with our love is that it’s not just about what we do love, but also about what we don’t.
Don’t Love the World
John spends the rest of the passage backing up what he means. He gives a negative situation, explains what makes it negative, and then wraps it up with a concluding reality-check.
Don’t love the world, because loving the world means you don’t have the love of the Father. Why are love for the world and the love of the Father contrary? John goes on in v. 16—the world and the Father are at odds because what makes up the world are those things not from the Father: desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, and pride in possessions.
Loving the world, as John sees it, is not some Teddy Bear-like disposition towards an abstract sphere of blue and green. Loving the world is a full-fledged embrace of carnal hedonism, covetous opinion, and pretentious materialism. And this stuff is not from the Father. And so if we love this stuff it means that the love of the Father is not in us.
Moreover, John says, just to make sure we’re clear and you get what’s going on here, this world and all its desires are passing away. It will be no more. But whoever does the will of God abides forever. This is the reality-check. Snuggling up to the world is jumping headlong into what does not last. The world’s enticing thrill is a smoke-screen that leaves stumbling through life without realizing that we’re wasting it. We don’t want to do that.
There is good news. Jesus Christ has died for us and been raised. He has made us his own and by the Spirit he leads us in the road of repentance and faith. We can let go of our love for the world because the shackles of the world have let go of us. We can turn from our love for the world because Jesus absorbed the wrath such love effects. So let’s turn again. With our backs to the world, let’s set our eyes on the glory of Christ and have our lives be characterized by what we love, and what we don’t.