A weekday Devotional from Central Presbyterian Church. Find another day here.
Wednesday May 6, 2020
1 John 2:15-17
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. 16 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. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Imagine that, once all of this quarantine and social distancing orders are finally over and the world has gone back to some semblance of normal, you attend an amazingly lavish wedding. At this wedding every single detail has been thought out, no expense has been spared by the family of the bride, the church is packed to the brim with exquisite floral arrangements and revelrous well-wishers, and the radiant bride beams as she floats down the aisle towards her out-of-his league husband-to-be. After the graceful bride commits herself to him for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, as long as they both shall live, in a bit of a surprise, the disheveled and destitute groom reveals that he has written his own vows, in which he pledges his love for her on Mondays and Wednesdays, and every 3rd Thursday, as long as he feels like it. In fact, to confirm his philandering intentions, just over his shoulder, in the first row, sits several women with whom he is presently involved. The horrified room erupts in applause when, instead of a kiss, the groom receives a fist to the lips from the woman he has so thoroughly and publicly humiliated.
From the beginning, God makes it clear that His expectation and demand from His people is faithfulness. In Deuteronomy 4:24, when God makes His covenant with Moses at Mt. Sinai, the Bible says that “the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” One of the incredible images that God repeatedly uses to express the nature of this covenant relationship with His people is that of a marriage, where the church is the unworthy bride and Jesus is the ever-loyal and faithful groom. In Ephesians 5, husbands are commanded to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Jesus loves so much that He willingly laid down His own life in order to enter in to an exclusive and intimate relationship with His chosen people. In response to His sacrificial love for us, we should desire to love Him in return.
Knowing the heart of man, Jesus often warned His followers about the competing desires in the world. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was speaking about the love of money when He said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” John helps us to see in this passage that not only the love of money, but love for the world or any “thing” in the world can prove to be a stumbling block for those who attempt to follow Jesus. Loving, or devoting ourselves, to anything in the world outside of Jesus can lead us down a destructive path of self-righteousness, self-gratification, and self-obsession.
One of the most well-known and loved verses in all of the Bible is John 3:16, which reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” It is important to recognize that the same author who penned those hope-filled words of God’s love for the world now offers an urgent warning against human love for the world. God’s love for the world is a selfless love that brings peace to humanity and eternal life through Him, while our love for the world results in enmity with God and reveals we have no life in Him. The Lord is not a scorned suitor who can not stand to see His people happy in the arms of another lover; rather, He knows that the whole world and those who are devoted to the pleasures that it offers, will not endure forever. It is nothing more than a temporary mirage, a fleeting moment that will not last. The most loving thing that God could do is insist upon devotion to Himself, for all who do His will, who remain committed to Him, will never perish.
Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, we know that You are a jealous God, and we thank You that You have chosen to love and enter into a relationship with we who are unworthy. We confess that we are an unfaithful bride. We have strayed from You, led astray by the sinful desires of our eyes and our hearts. We ask that You would help us to remember that the only thing that matters is You. Help us to remain committed to You and all that You desire us to do, for Your plan is perfect and true. In Your loving name we pray, Amen.