Sunday I talked about 1 John 2:15-17 which, in my opinion, is the most important passage in 1 John because it speaks to our humanity and the things that drive us. Here’s the passage:
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”
1. We either love our world or we love God. We cannot love both simultaneously.
2. We know we love our world when we define ourselves by it. When we define ourselves by our careers or relationship statuses or children or parents or significant others or style or music or dialect or nationality or hair color or body shape or athletic ability or alma mater or how we order at Starbucks, we have loved the world and not God.
3. This is dangerous because what will we do when we lose our job or our relationship or our children or our parents or our significant others or our style or our music or our dialect or our nationality or our hair color or our body shape or our athletic ability or our alma mater or how we order at Starbucks? What do we do when those things vanish? What do we do when those things no longer adequately define us as individuals, as humans, as God’s children?
4. When Jesus came to redeem us, it wasn’t just to let us go to heaven, it was to bring heaven here. And in heaven all identity rooted in the world is destroyed. In heaven you are not your career or relationship status or a child or a parent or significant other or a style or music or dialect or nationality or hair color or body shape or athletic ability or alma mater or how you order at Starbucks.
In heaven, you are exactly who God made you to be. You are you. Just you. Every worldly way we identify ourselves was crucified with Jesus, and a brand new you came out of the tomb.
5. This is one way to love God and not the world – to lose your identity. And this is what Jesus came to do. Jesus redeemed the woman caught in adultery
Zacchaeus the tax collector
the blind man
the man with leprosy
the woman who couldn’t stop bleeding
the man with a shriveled hand
the paralyzed guy whose friends lowered him from the roof
Their redemption was not just forgiveness, not just healing, but redemption came by Jesus declaring,
“YOU ARE NO LONGER WHAT THE WORLD THINKS OF YOU! YOU ARE NO LONGER THE SLUT, THE GREEDY JERK WHO STOLE EVERYBODY’S MONEY, THE BLIND GUY, THE UNCLEAN MAN, THE UNCLEAN WOMAN, THE GUY WITH THE WEIRD HAND, THE GUY WHO CAN’T WALK. YOU ARE NOW THE YOU THAT GOD MADE YOU TO BE!”
He even did this with people who, as John warned, took pride in their position and possessions. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were robbed of their control when Jesus knocked them off their self-made pedestals and robbed their pretentious identities. Pilate, the governor of the region, one of the most powerful men in Rome, was just a fella. Just a man. And Jesus treated him as such.
6. So who are you? Are you the sum of your external circumstances. Are you trying to prove yourself to the world by being good enough, cool enough, smart enough, parental enough, creative enough, different enough, rebellious enough, angry enough, nice enough, successful enough, rich enough, poor enough, well-dressed enough?
Stop. Let it go. Because if you do those things the love of God isn’t in you. Not because God is mad so he’s giving you the silent treatment. But because you are trying to get everything God offers through things that are not God. And it doesn’t work.
Stop. Let it go. Quit trying to prove yourself to people who don’t really matter anyway. Stop trying to prove that you’re a Somebody. Because Jesus invites us to be Nobodies. And Nobodies are what heaven is all about.