You have heard the expression “love is blind.” It usually refers to someone who falls in love but who seems not to see the (apparently obvious) flaws in the person he loves. Christians are likewise told not to love the world: “Do not love the world, or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
It’s easy to become infatuated with the world. She is so alluring, in a fatally charming way. Beneath the beautiful exterior, she is hollow, feeding her followers a diet lacking in nourishment. She can be a harsh mistress, demanding and unreasonable, prepared to abandon those who love her at a whim. That’s why it is so hard to resist her demands. We are reluctant to displease her, for fear she will withhold the approval we crave. And, to put it simply, we don’t see that she is manipulative and controlling, because our love is blind!
The phrase “the world” refers to society in so far as it is antagonistic to God and his ways. The exhortation “do not love the world” bears the idea of being enamored, or infatuated with the world.
The world, in this sense, “Lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). This explains the antagonism of “the world” to Christian values: it is under the control of Satan. Recall the offer Satan made to Jesus that if he “bowed down” and worshipped him, Satan could give him “all the nations of the world.”
Although the world has often been antagonistic towards God’s way, it is still the object of his love. God, we are told, “so loved the world that he gave his only son” (John 3:16). This does not mean that God is an environmentalist! It means that God loves human beings. Into a world that was dark with sin and sorrow, he came as a light. But for the most part, the world rejected his offer of love.
While the actions of Caiaphas, Pilate and Judas might have been evil, the Bible is clear that the real battle was taking place on a cosmic level, between God and Satan. That battle was won on the cross. “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).
Judgment on the world had taken place at the cross. By its reaction to Jesus, the world condemned itself.
Here is our dilemma: To live elbow to elbow with the world, to be here, in the world, yet be untainted by it. Expect the world’s hatred and opposition to all we hold dear. Yet we are not offered a retreat from life in the world. We are part of society, too.
If the world and God’s people are in such obvious conflict, and if it is a fearful battle to the death, then why so many passages urging us to see the difference and understand what is at stake? Probably because it is so easy to “fall in love” with the world, so easy to confuse which side we are on. After all, “Love is blind.”