Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world …” Hang on! Hang on!
I thought we were meant to love this world in which we live, from God’s beautiful creation to all the messiness which we humans have managed to generate. What about ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (John 3:16).
Let’s just take a deep breath and start again. Here we have words which, taken out of context, seem to be saying something contrary to the messages we find in other places. We can be confident from what we can read in so many places in our bibles that God loves the world and all that that involves. We can also be confident in saying that, through his Son, he calls us to love and care for the whole of creation.
If we take the trouble to read the previous and the following verses, we find the context and we find some indication of some of the things which God really does want us not to love. We also find a call to do the will of God and so live for ever.
Sadly, we often find it so much easier to make a judgment based on the first words which present themselves – particularly if they are words with which we agree. I think there is a lesson here for us all. It is about taking time to listen and understand, the nuances and the backstory whether that is as we read the Bible, as we listen to the media or engage in conversation with friends. That way bridges are built and the world will become a more loveable place.
Loving God, Snap judgments are so easy forgive our lack of patience and care. Help us to understand the full story, to take the time to listen carefully and to share your love for the world Amen
Val Morrison – Hall Gate URC Doncaster and Former Moderator of the General Assembly