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Love not the world: Thoughts on maintaining a Christlike perspective

Through the month of August, I spent much time reading and reflecting on the Gospel of John, the book that gave me spiritual life when I was in my late 20s.
As I meditated on the teaching of Jesus, it again became clear how Jesus is always of another world. The world of his family and his disciples was a world of time and space, but he came from divinity and eternity.
I was reminded again that Jesus wants us to love another world more than the world of things, people and what is passing away. In 1 John 2, the apostle states Jesus’ point directly, “Love not the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world … comes not from the father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (2:15-17)
Thinking along this line made me recall that when I was in the ninth grade, I was asked to talk on this passage for 10 minutes at a Sunday evening Bible class for the high school group.
Because my memories of World War II were fresh and because I thought high school was a hotbed of evil, my theme was that the world is an unlovable place.
Now, 60 years later, my view is very different. The world has brought many great things into my life — an amazing wife, dear children, precious grandchildren, great spouses for my children, even a worthy grandson-in-law, soon a granddaughter-in-law, hosts of friends, students who have become life-long friends, unique people who have shared their lives. The world is now filled with amazing people whom I love and who love me. How do I love the relationships with good people and not love the world we are in?
That struggle is one that I have dealt with a very long time, and it becomes a more intense battle with each passing year. What has definitely helped me has been a lifelong habit of Bible study. The more I focus and concentrate on the world of the spirit, the easier it is to keep a proper perspective of this world.
From Psalms to prophecy, from Gospels to epistles, I have found comfort and insight. All things in Scripture help to draw me closer to God and to make his world more real to me.
When the world begins to overwhelm me with its seductions, an hour or two of reading reflectively will bring peace and balance to my spirit.
Another way that I have found useful in keeping this world in perspective is to take time to stay in touch with world events. In a time of war, the futility and waste of resources and life help me realize that Jesus was correct as he diagnosed the problems of this world. Men are concerned with themselves, and God hardly matters.
Disasters, diseases and crime have a sobering effect on my perception of this world. Political animosity and destructive attitudes reveal the division of this world. Looking carefully and objectively at this world is a powerful tool that helps us keep perspective of the true nature of this world.
Of course, prayer is a powerful way to help balance our view of the world. I am never sure how to pray about my tendency to love the world too much, but trying to find the words to express my ambiguous feeling about the world and the precious people in it seems to give me a clearer understanding of the constant warfare and helps me keep a healthy respect for this world’s power and a greater longing for the world of Jesus and the Father.
Meditation is another spiritual discipline that helps me keep all my conflicting loves and concerns in perspective. I do not have to be in a specific place or in certain mood to begin to meditate. It helps, though, to have enough seclusion to concentrate. I begin by thinking of the wonderful miracle of deity becoming human. That thought brings an awareness of how little I know and how feeble my thoughts are. Then I begin emptying my mind and thinking only about my breathing.
As the reality of this world begins to slip away from my consciousness, the reality of Jesus and his spiritual world becomes more powerful.
Not loving this world is a challenge, but letting the Spirit gain control will make it easier.
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Filed under: Insight

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