When I was a girl, I had an old, stone-faced English teacher who made me fall in love with words. In her mouth they marched, danced and sang as they became Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton or Frost. I saw multitudes of Technicolor scenes unfold before me while she addressed the class in a barely audible voice. There were others like the home economics teacher who encouraged me to love homemaking and to create beautiful apparel from fabric and thread and the science teacher who helped me to see the wonders of the nature all around me. College music teachers bragged up my ability as a singer while lofty Epicurean types inspired me to become more and more aware of my five senses. In the first three years of college, I took 21 hours each semester. My appetite for learning was insatiable. As I sought to embrace life and live it to the full, all these and more appealed to my intellect and to my foolish pride.
Years later I met someone who helped me to love God and His word, and my mind and heart began a metamorphosis. The transition has not been easy, since the lure of life in the world still calls from every direction. Yet the true “life” (John 17:3) had so much greater call that it has made all the difference. Because of God’s word, choices are already made. Like the Philippians, we are bought and redeemed, but we are still working out our own salvation from day to day (Phil. 2:12).
Having known brethren who grew up in the church, who would not humble themselves to serve the one who created them, I have wondered if they too found the things of the world more appealing than the things of eternity. Their reasoning could be quite simple. Maybe not with words, but with their lives they were saying, “To me, the world is in Technicolor, while religion is in black and white.”
Having actually heard such a statement from one I love still sends chills down my spine and breaks my heart. So why is the world in Technicolor? Obviously comparing Technicolor to black and white provides the contrast some need to express their feelings about how flat and valueless religion is to them. They mean that the world and the things of the world appeal to them like glittering jewels calling on every hand. Do they understand they cannot serve two masters? Apparently they do, and we also should understand that principle (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13) but make the better choice. Either we live to satisfy our fleshly desires that bring pleasure on earth, or we live to sow to and bear the fruit of the spirit while building treasure in heaven. Some know enough not to try to serve two masters, but they often choose the wrong one.
- Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1 John 2:15-17).
Why is this commandment unacceptable to most people? Almost everyone I know changes the words in this passage to say: do not love the evil in the world. Is that what it says? Is this talking about the people? Who is in the world? We have neighbors, friends, enemies and brethren. We are commanded to love our neighbor. We also are commanded to love our brethren, enemies and friends. Who else is there in the world? Is this a contradiction in the Bible? Is He talking about souls or things?
(to be continued)