30 December 2013

“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 … comes not from the Father but from the world.” (vv. 15-16)


On first reading these words from John's letter one might think that all of us who have made a commitment to follow Jesus are to become like the desert fathers, living in isolation from the world and rejecting everything that might delight or fulfil us. However I don't think that that is what he is meaning at all when he wrote that his readers are to reject the world in which they are living, but that they should get their priorities right.

I read a newspaper article which said that "most Britons don't believe in God but worship perfection. It is salvation, redemption, the most fervent prayer from the heart, the way to glory". The journalist was writing of the seeming need for people to search for the perfect figure, the perfect dress sense, the perfect home, the perfect everything, in the hopes that they might somehow find the fulfilment they need from the accumulation of such things.

I am tempted to say "twas every thus", for surely this is the dilemma John is writing about in his letter - people whose love of the worldly is turning them away from the love of God and also from the road to life they are shown in the person of Jesus. In this passage he reminds the people to whom the letter was written that because of the faith they have through knowing Jesus they will have the strength to withstand the pressures and the demands made upon them by the world. There will be no need to conform to the standards of those whose focus is on worldly riches and worldly desires: the fulfilment of their lives will come through their faith in God and in his purpose for the world.

To Ponder

  • What is the best way to live up to the commitment to the Jesus who brought good news to the poor when we ourselves live surrounded by consumer goods and bombarded by the advertisements offering us salvation if only we purchase this or that item?

Bible notes author: The Revd Pat Billsborrow

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