By Amber Noel

A Reading from 1 John 2:12-17

12 I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young people,
because you have conquered the evil one.
14 I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young people,
because you are strong
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16for all that is in the world — the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches — comes not from the Father but from the world. 17And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever.

Meditation

I love the world. As I write this, fat flakes of snow fall outside the window. A hawk wheels over a roof. People head to work. A man jogs along the pond. The morning is quiet. “This Is My Father’s World.” Isn’t it? The world is loveable. Is love for God and love for what God has made a zero-sum game? Or, is loving what God loves equivalent to not loving God?

If not, then what in this world competes with God’s love?

We might think of it this way: there are two worlds in the world. There is the world God made; and there is the world we make of it. Not all we make in our culture, civilization, and commerce are good. There is the worldliness with which human sin burdens God’s world: greed, brutality, insensitivity of all kinds; getting ahead at the expense of others; love of appearances over realities; endless buying and selling; the making of all that is neither beautiful nor needful; the abuse of other creatures in providing for our own needs — “the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches.” These are the “things of the world,” the signs of deep human strife, suffering, and rebellion; its causes, fruits, and accoutrements. These are what we are commanded not to love, not to serve: the things that either harm God’s good world or tempt us to cling to it at the expense of obedience to him. There is a destructive worldliness we must not love; then there is the world God made, the world that we are commanded to love and live in, as he heals our ability to love and live rightly.

Amber Noel, M.Div., is Associate Editor at the Living Church and Associate Director of The Living Church Institute. Off the clock, she is the author of short fiction, book and culture reviews, and work for the stage.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria
St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, River Hills, Wis.