Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Is our world really that bad? (1 John 2:15-17)

I remember a very random conversation from years ago with an old-fashioned church leader. I remember it because it was such a weird thing he said. We were talking about the entrance area to the church (exciting stuff) and someone referred to it as the foyer and he said 'Foyer? I think you mean the vestibule. Foyer's such a worldly word!' I couldn't believe my ears and I hoped he was being sarcastic or something.

Sometimes (thankfully not that often these days) Christians will use the word 'worldly' when they're saying that something is really wrong or evil. What on earth (pardon the pun) are they on about?

1 John 1:15-17

John's words here make it sound like it's God versus the world or that everything about the world we live in is totally evil and God can't wait to destroy it. But I think that if this is the conclusion we draw from what John's saying, we've misunderstood him.

God made our world to be good and in the beginning it was perfect and there was no death (Genesis 1:31). But these days it doesn't take a genius to figure out that something's gone very wrong and there is plenty of evil around in our world today. Just watch the news or scan the front pages of the papers and we'll see stories of real evil stuff that is destroying lives all around us. And (perhaps on a smaller scale but no less serious) if we're honest with ourselves we can see the same destructive, selfish tendencies at work in our own minds and lives. Much as we might try to always do the right thing, sometimes we are selfish, lazy, rude or whatever. Or maybe it's just me but I don't think so!

The thing that's wrong with our world is sin. Sin is all the wrong stuff that we think, say or do that goes against God. And it's also the sickness we all have that causes it. It's why we can't be perfect like God intended in the beginning and it's why people die (Romans 6:23). Our world started out perfect but now it has earned itself a bad reputation. Yes there's lots that's good in our world. People are kind and caring, generous and dedicated and yet when John says that we shouldn't love the world - I think we know just what he means.

It's about where our focus is. If we focus on only the here and now (like most people do) then we'll probably be concerned with things like money, jobs, houses, families, cars, etc. All these things can be excellent and precious but if this is all that our lives are about then we've missed the point - God. The eternal God (no beginning, no end) has to feature in our agenda in this life. In fact, he deserves to be no less than number one. Unless we put him first in our lives and receive his forgiveness and hope - we will die with this world and be away from him forever. God wants to give us so much more than what we can see now! He wants to give us himself. He wants to give us eternity with him! Life to the full and life forever. A fresh start. Forgiveness. Hope, help, comfort and love like we've never known. Security, peace and joy.

Let's take our eyes off this world for a minute and fix them on God. Stop for a minute and rest. Close your eyes and ask God to show you what he has for you! Don't just read this - try it! God might want to surprise you!