15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 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. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.1 John 2:15-17
Jesus was a great storyteller and sometimes that’s a great way to relate scripture so that people can understand it. He often used parables when teaching the people. This story is about Tim Treadwell and his desire to protect the bears in Alaska. Generally bears don’t need protection, they can take care of themselves. His trust in bears was a bit misguided and his girlfriend was concerned for his welfare. In the end, they were both killed by bears. Park rangers had to kill the very thing that Treadwell was bent on protecting. The moral of the story: Live with bears long enough you’ll probably get eaten.
What does this have to do with our scripture for today? When we talk about the love God has for us, it’s called agape. Agape is not a feeling, it’s a commitment. Something you consciously choose to maintain over time.
So, we must choose worldliness or godliness. Worldliness is anything that we chase harder after than God. We are trying to satisfy ourselves rather than God. But the world is a bear! It may let you pet it, but in the end it will eat you.
We’re not talking about the ”world” referred to in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Here we’re referring to those in the world who are united in rebellion against God.
Think of the story about the tower of Babel. Nimrod, yeah, that was his name, there’s a clue of how great of a leader he was. He was a great-grandson of Noah. So this was after the flood had wiped out the earth and God had promised it would never happen again. But, Nimrod became rebellious against God and commissioned the construction of the Tower of Babel to reach to the heavens. Evidently he didn’t trust God’s promise and he craved power.
This story is one example of craving power (worldliness) over a relationship with God (godliness). That can happen to us if we focus on what we want rather than what God wants for us. Following our cravings may make us better off, but not better people. Technology may make life easier, but there are temptations there that may lead us away from God and monopolize our time and talents.
The rewards that we get from the world will not last. Just when we get our iphone the way we want it, there’s a new one that comes out and soon after ours doesn’t work as well. So now we need the newest version. Wow, I’m guilty of this one!
So how is chasing the world so dangerous?
- Because of what it is. The world is a shell game run by Satan.
- Because of what it does to us. It entices us to live on sinful substitutes.
- Sex instead of intimacy. $$ instead of security. Bling instead of balance.
- Because of what a believer is. A child of God.
How can we determine if something is ”of the world”?
- Does it stir or does it dampen my desire for God?
- Does it seduce me away from God?
- Does it create an obstacle to the cause or glory of Christ?
Have you become comfortable with compromise? Developed sympathy for your sin? Your demise has already begun.
Our pastor started a ”Dear John letter” for us that I want to share with you.
Dear World, We’ve grown apart. It’s not you , it’s me. I’ve change. I am redeemed and it took the blood of Christ to do it. You’ve never really loved me. You manipulated me, lied to me, hurt me. I remember you and what you did to me and my family. I will remember the consequences. I don’t love you any more. We can’t be friends.
- Chasing after the world will leave you exhausted and perpetually chasing the world’s promises.
- Chasing after God will bring you rest, purpose, blessing, and peace.
- Measure what’s worth measuring.
- Chase what’s worth chasing.
I can think of people I’ve known that have the peace described above and I can remember thinking, ”I want what they’ve got!” You can have it and so can I if we cherish our relationship with God more than a relationship with the world.
Remember the world is a bear…don’t let it eat you!