Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)
Any Christian should be quite familiar with this well-worn text of Scripture. We’ve probably all been convicted by its strong words at one time or another during our walk with Christ. Vanity Fair has seduced its fair share of prospective pilgrims throughout history. The question I have now in my 3rd decade on the narrow path isn’t how much love I have for the world, it’s more along the line of How much hate I have for the world, and is it OK to hate the world we live in?
I think I’ve always had a fundamental distaste for the modern age in which we live. From a very young age I’ve always been fascinated with different time periods. I romanticized the various epochs in my vivid imagination growing up. I loved the eras of ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and especially the medieval period in Europe. This fact was confirmed just a few days past when I visited my first Medieval fair. Good times.
I think that’s why I play video games – particularly role-playing games. I’m thoroughly enthralled at the ability to be transported to another time and place. Sometimes people ask why I still play video games at my age. My answer is simple: They take me someplace else.
Which leads me back to my initial question: Is it OK to hate the world? I’ll answer ambiguously: yes and no. We need to define terms. What do we mean by ‘world’? The word has several different connotations. On one hand it can mean the people of the world. In this sense then, my answer would be a definitive ‘No’. John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world…’ Yet here, John, the same author who penned the Scripture I quoted in the opening, seems to suggest that it’s OK for God to love the world but not us. However, the word ‘world’ has two different meanings in these texts. When God says he ‘so loved the world’ he is speaking of the people who are in the world; The ones he has redeemed out of every tongue, tribe and nation. The shorthand way for saying this is ‘world’. God loves His people with an enduring, eternal love.
The apostle uses ‘world’ from 1 John in a different context. His reference here is to the world system controlled and orchestrated by that ancient serpent, Satan. He has infiltrated and influenced the governments of the nations. He has taken advantage of our natural religious inclinations and led man astray after false gods. He fills our hearts with lust and covetousness of the things this world has to offer, promising happiness and fulfillment that it can’t deliver. The devil has led the whole world astray by his deceptions. The nations are spellbound under his sway. Powerful delusion has dulled our senses. We are being led away to slaughter unaware. It is in this realm where my revulsion for this present reality grows daily.
My heart aches to see the masses mock God. A growing number of Americans demean his righteousness and obscure His glory, crediting oblivion itself for the good things we enjoy every single day. In the minds of the deluded the creation order of human relationships itself has been overturned and redefined in order to satisfy the lusts of their own hearts. Anyone who dares decry the insanity is labeled with monikers of hate, bigotry and outright stupidity.
Even in an era where Science has replaced the Almighty as the fountain of truth, people are redefining their own existence in light of how they feel in their hearts. They spit in the face of their own self-exalted new gods of science and reason as well as the true God of creation. This new paradigm of acceptable psychosis is paraded by the powers placed in government, business and the celebrated populace. Dissent is dismissed as morally repugnant bigotry. Everyone is to be assimilated into the new moral revolution.
How long before our cries are muted? The church of Jesus Christ cannot remain silent in the face of evil unhinged. Christians have a moral responsibility to be a voice in the wilderness to call for repentance. A genuine faith in Christ always brings with it repentance from sin. As long as the world wallows in their depraved self-righteousness not a one of them can be saved. Unrighteousness doesn’t keep any man from salvation but self-righteousness condemns them all. In other words, our sin cannot be forgiven until we abandon the notion that ‘I’m alright, you’re alright.’
Yes, In thoughtful reflection I do hate this world. Not the people. Not the natural creation which reflects God’s glory. No, I hate its ethics. I despise its principles. I loathe its arrogance. The values, ethos and morality of the culture has spilled over into a flowing cesspool of ungodliness that pours through every crack and crevasse in God’s creation. The world defends its rebellion against God with an arsenal of well-honed intellectual weapons. They have fortified themselves behind stone fortresses of smug self-assurance. Their battlements are fully equipped with distorted realities. No truth can penetrate their defenses.
I hate this world for the very reason that its people have embraced strong delusion. They’ve believed the great lie that God is not necessary – not for creation, not for life, not for goodness nor morality, not for happiness, peace nor salvation. They’ve discarded His righteousness and established a righteousness of their own. May God have mercy.
I scorn modern ideologies which hold Christians in contempt for possessing the conviction that terminating the life of our most dependent and helpless citizens is despicable. We’ve been labeled extremist by the media simply for defending the defenseless. We’re called blind for our refusal to share the vision of a spectrum of gender identity. We’re considered ignorant if we don’t acknowledge that men should be able to marry men. We’ve suffered brain-damage if we don’t celebrate and participate in the holy matrimony of two women. We’re close-minded by not confessing the validity of every religion. We’ve become narrow-minded by declaring Jesus is the only way of redemption. We’re repressive for believing Christianity should have a right to be expressed freely in the public sphere. We’re dictatorial for thinking public policy should reflect a Christian world-view – much like the majority of our nation’s founding fathers did.
Never have I felt more like a peculiar pilgrim than I do right now. This world is not my home. I’ve never felt the force of those words more strongly than at this time in history. I’m a stranger passing through a foreign land on the way to my true residence – the new heavens and new earth, the home of righteousness. This present earth is the home of sin, self-deception and death. Wickedness is spreading like an unstoppable pandemic. This age is rushing to judgment. The momentum of iniquity has gathered enough energy to make the downward spiral to perdition almost unstoppable. I say ‘almost’ because God is sovereign and if he wishes to reverse the tide he can and will most certainly do so. I leave room for his mercy to turn hearts to Jesus Christ. It is my desire that this would happen.
Yes, I hate this world and all it stands for, yet it pains me to see the people of this world caught up in their own trap. They love sin more than they love God. They’ve embraced darkness and shielded themselves from the light. Wounded and bitter, they lash out at God, at His people. Christian, we must remember,
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12 ESV).
We are at war against Satan and the powers at his command. He is armed with weapons of the mind and spirit. The sharpened steel tips are forged of lies and half-truths. We’ve all been pierced by them. Lord, have mercy on those who are hemmed in on every side. The verses from Romans 12 which have served me so well these past few months warrant a reminder to myself and my readers. This one verse sums up the teachings of that chapter:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:23 ESV).
My emotions sometimes spill over. I can’t allow my passions to get the better of sound wisdom. The culture may spit in my face for exalting God’s standards above their own, yet I will not yield, nor shall I retaliate. I will not give in to the hate that consumes my enemies. I will not repay evil for evil. I will not curse, but instead will bless. God give me strength and courage for the days ahead.
I long for the day of Christ’s return. I desire to see the plague of evil abolished forever. I ache for a world empty of tears, sorrow, pain and death. With God, I will find no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but pray He grants humility and contriteness of heart for all lost sinners. Of such I am chief among. Having found favor in the sight of a gracious God I can’t respond to evil as if I found a way within myself to overcome it. I can’t boast in my abilities or innate wisdom. I can’t chide the people for loving the world when I at one time embraced it with equal zest.
Mercy I have received, mercy I must give. Evil ruled my mind, heart and spirit until Jesus set me free by sheer grace. Whom He has set free is free indeed. I pray that before the final judgment comes many more captive souls will find freedom from the allure of this present evil age.