1 John 2:15 tells us that the ‘love of the world’ is sin and it cuts us off from the Father’s love: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him”. As the children of God, we are from above and the materialistic cravings and desires of this world are not for us.
What is Love?
Yet at the same time, the Father loves this world with a costly and sacrificial love, so great that He gave His Son to redeem it: “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” – John 3:16. We see that He does not look down from heaven coldly, critically or remotely, which is how we as human beings can be tempted to view things, but lovingly involves Himself.
What is the World?
In both verses, the Greek word for ‘world’ comes from the same Greek root – ‘cosmos.’ So how can we not love the world and yet embrace it?
In John 17:15 Yeshua prayed, “My prayer is not that You take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one.” It is only by the Holy Spirit that we can be in the world but not of it. We are to resist the pull of worldly influences, and at the same time embrace the people of the world with God’s grace and truth, like Yeshua modelled! The battle is won in the place of prayer. This is how He prayed for us in John 17 and we are to do the same.
Only if we stand at this balance point, can we love the sinner and yet hate their sin. Only by God’s grace can we find motivation to enter into the lostness of people’s broken lives. Prostitutes, terrorists or even those from different ethnic backgrounds, can all experience the unconditional love of the Father through us.
Lord give us the grace to identify with and love those who are in a different place than we are.