Welcome to Monday’s podcast. My name is Tom Finnemore – I’m part of the team at STC and I’m picking up the baton from Helen Ward as we continue our journey through the epistles of John.
Our reading today is 1 John 2:15-21. Today we’ll focus on verse 15:
‘Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him…’
A very long time ago I did the Duke of Edinburgh award and part of the process is to do various expeditions and this was pre mobile phone days – so we learned to map read, old school.
When you’re map reading – let me be clear – when you’re old school map reading – for the youngsters that means no phones, no GPS – just your map and a compass – you learn to read your environment. To look out for landmarks – to interpret the landscape – the surrounding topography – to identify on the map where you are and work out your course of action.
In that moment you realise how much you rely on vision to work out the way forward.
I tell you you that, to tell of one particular time – when in the middle of the summer in the lake district – on top of a mountain a thick fog descended upon us and it began to snow. We had no way of interpreting where we were by sight. It was really scary. It was freezing cold and so all we had was a compass. For the next (what seemed like) hours we walked slowly, are carefully down the mountain – just placing one foot in front of the other – glued to our compass.
It was a terrifying moment. All points of reference were gone. It was a leap of faith into the unknown. Our compass was our guide. We couldn’t see the way forward.
Honesty it feels like that right now.
When will Covid19 end? When will they create a vaccine? Will the economy crash and will it ever recover? Will Kanye West be the next president of the USA – as if 2020 could get any weirder? What about racism and racial tensions? What about the Police? What about Hong Kong and China?
So many unanswered questions at this time – it feels like that fog descending on the Lake District Mountain. Well it does to me anyway.
So, what do we do on this July Monday in little old Sheffield?
I find it a huge relief that in God’s great providence he doesn’t leave us alone in the fog. What I mean by that is that when we take a closer look at the scriptures we begin to see that our spiritual ancestors – sure lived in a different age with different challenges – but there are also some really striking similarities which if we mediate, learn and immerse ourselves in – become like that compass that led me and my mates down that Lake District mountain.
In John 3:16 – John writes the famous words: ‘For God so loved the world…’ so it seems really weird that he should write in 1 John 2:15 ‘Do not love the world or anything in the world…’
Behind these words is the truth that the ‘world’ – which for John includes – to put it crudely: politics, culture and financial systems, are all under the control of the enemy of God. So, his warning to the believers in the churches around province of Asia – which to us is modern day Turkey – is the reminder we live under a system which is opposed to God. As the old adage goes – we live in it but not of it…
And as we’ll learn throughout this week – the surrounding culture was as confusing for the recipients of John’s letter as it us for us today in 2020.
The clear challenge that John is laying out is avoid temptations. One of the big ones – at the moment – is to stand against despair and discouragement. We’re told in Isaiah 61:3 ‘to have a garment of praise not a spirit of despair…’
So, how do we do that when there’s so much bad news?
Honestly, turn off your TV! Remove Twitter – there are some angry souls there venting theirs stuff and sadly some are Christians and they’re no better.
Stop. Be proactive about taking a break. Of intentionally seeking rest in God. Of shielding from the onslaught of negativity – whose author is the very enemy of God. Of socially distancing from the voices that lure us into a place of hopelessness and despair.
I read once of a Rabbi in one of the Concentration camps during WWII who would go around and saying ‘Keep Shabbat brother Jew…’ It seems so crazy that even though they faced the most awful time – knowing what was happening – that they would keep the Sabbath. That they would stop, turn to the scriptures – remind themselves of God’s faithfulness in the midst of the horror.
We too should stop. Turn off the negativity. Turn off the voices off doom. And turn our attention towards God. Embracing his presence – enjoying his creation – praising Him for his goodness.
We should detox the angst. Silence the voice of the ‘world’ in our hearts. And once again tune into hope – the eternal hope of the eternal heartbeat of God.
It is vital in this season that we heed the wisdom of the Proverbs to ‘guard our hearts’ – for the Bible tells us that it’s the wellspring of life.
Let me suggest – that in this season – if we do this – we’ll find the Compass of God’s word and his presence leading us through.
Jesus thank you for this day! Help us to navigate this season well!
BIBLE READING: 1 John 2:15-21 (NIV)
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.