1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16 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. 17 And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
This is a powerful word from the apostle John, though it may seem to contradict another verse he wrote in the gospel of John:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son…”
So which is correct? If God loves the world, shouldn’t we love the world? Well, no. While the Greek word translated as “world” (κόσμος) is the same in both passages – they do not mean the same thing.
In the gospel of John the apostle is referring to the various peoples of the world. Jesus didn’t just die for Israel, but for all people everywhere. In the letter of 2 John the apostle is referring to “the things in the world” (v.15) – meaning “stuff” or material things. In a consumer culture like ours, “stuff” is most certainly a god, especially now that the true God is being pushed aside in much of the Western world.
Thanksgiving is coming up – and you know what that means. It means lots of crazy Black Friday sales, many of which now begin on Thanksgiving Day itself. The retail experience has come to rival the Thanksgiving meal as a focus for the day, and I admit I scour the newspaper and Internet for deals on my favorite stuff. Hey – I like stuff too! Yet something interesting is happening that gives me a bit of hope.
There are a number of retailers cancelling Thanksgiving Day operations this year and giving their employees the day off. And from what I can tell, this is getting positive reviews from many shoppers. It’s a sign that some people think the shopping experience of Thanksgiving has gone a bit too far. We don’t want to lose the meaning of Thanksgiving completely.
Lord Jesus, we have much to be thankful for. Give us grace to embrace the truth that “stuff” may be passing away, but life with you lasts forever. Help us to keep our priorities in order, especially during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.