by Kenneth O. Gangel


“Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15 (NIV)


Howard Hendricks tells the story of a flight from Boston to Dallas in the summer of 1987 which departed six hours late. Tired Friday-afternoon businessmen were steamed about the problem. The man across the aisle growled at the flight attendant every time she walked by. Since approaching him seemed a hopeless idea, Hendricks walked back to the galley to commend the flight attendant on self-control and the way she handled the situation.  He asked her name, suggesting he wanted to write American Airlines and express appreciation.  She responded, “I don’t work for American Airlines; I work for Jesus Christ.”


First John 2:15-17 may represent the most important teaching in the Bible on the subject of worldliness.  In our day we have often described worldliness according to a list of “don’ts” which Christians should avoid. To be sure, serious Christians do avoid certain behaviors condemned in Scripture, but here John made it clear that worldliness is primarily attitude.


Loving the world is not some accidental mistake God’s people might fall into on occasion, but rather a definite love relationship. John used one of his favorite words here, agape, the strongest Greek term for love and the same word used of God’s love in John 3:16. Sinful cravings (illegitimate desires), the lust of the eyes (sensory desires), and boastful speech (self-pride) all stem from our sinful natures and are at cross-purposes with our loving God.


Loving the world is futile, said John, because it is “being caused to pass away” while those who do the Father’s will live forever.


Motivation stands at issue here: Loving the world displays a character inconsistent with the nature of God. Christians must show the world that they belong to a different kingdom and, by God’s grace, can walk above the lure and attraction of worldliness.




NCCP Ecumenical Ministry – Church of the Risen Lord

University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC



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