Not of This World
Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. ~1 John 2:15-17 (MSG)
This last week I started a new study with our youth entitled Engage. We will spend the next four weeks talking about “This World vs. God’s World” and what that looks like. We turned to 1 John 2 to begin our discussion. As we began, one student asked, “What do you mean by ‘world?’ Are you talking about the earth, or something else?” So we spent some time talking about what they thought John meant when he said “world.”
As students took turns throwing out their ideas about how to define the “world,” one student said, “I think the world is anything that keeps us from our relationship with God.” With that definition I started to spin a web of questions “So what keeps you from your relationship with God?” I asked. In candidness you don’t find in adults, they raised their hands. One said “TV” another said “friends.” Then one student said with all seriousness, “Everything, if we let it.”
We continued our discussion about how cell phones, friends, sports, etc. are not bad, but can all get in the way of our relationship with God. Sometimes it isn’t an external force that separates us from God, but an internal one. When we make things about us and not about God we are letting the world rule over us. We get so caught up in what we want. What we like. Fitting God into our schedules that we lose site of the fact that we are created to be in relationship with God. Anything that gets in the way of that is not good.
In fact in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells Peter to “Get behind me, Satan!” (Mt 16:23) Jesus was not calling Peter Satan. He was not saying Peter was evil. Jesus had just told the disciples that he had to suffer and die so he could be raised from the dead. Scripture tells us that upon hearing this, Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Jesus and said, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” Jesus knew what he had to do. He knew he was on earth for one reason, to die for us so that he could restore our relationship with the Father. I said, “Peter was standing in the way of what Jesus was supposed to do.” Peter was thinking of only this world, while God’s plan for us was much bigger than that.
What if, as a body of Christ, we started thinking more of the kingdom and less of this world and “wordly” things? Where might the kingdom be? What if we put the effort into building the kingdom that we put in to trying to make ourselves look important? What if instead of spending 6-10 hours a day on media devices we used that time to listen to and do what God is calling us to do? 1 John tells us that “Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father… but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.” As we head towards Thanksgiving and Christmas let’s start thinking about how we might live life differently; living not for this world, but for the kingdom.