Nov 29, 2017 - 5 min read

(Quick take away for those who hate reading: "[Materialism] does not reside in 'things', but it does certainly reside in our concentration on 'things'" - F. F. Bruce  If we only value perishable things there is only the expectation of eventual elimination, however, valuing something infinite results in infinite hope.)

I have been considering the practical implications of 1 John 2:15-17 lately and have been especially drawn to think about the text in a nonreligious manner.  Ultimately trying to determine the root issue John is trying to solve.  The benefit of thinking this way is that it takes the reader away from approaching the text emotionally or with the assumption that there is an implicit spiritual reading required (looking at an issue practically rather than through the framework of original sin or a theodicy).   Though John intends for there to be a religious resolution, the root issue of materialism seems to be logically feasible and consistent with the notion that money can't buy happiness and that the pursuit of material at the expense of abstract pleasures leads to unhappiness.  

Now one cannot say that the presence of material gain results directly to one's unhappiness because as we all know, the absence of debt and financial struggle is a huge relief!  Materialism as a primary desire, however, is where we begin to see issues, of which 1 John 2:15-17 help to identify. 

Problem: "The world is passing away (v. 17)."  We all know that we are going to die, alone, and with nothing.  "Along with its desires (v. 17)," even the ideas that you hold dear will pass along with any legacy that you left behind, everything will be gone.  This is the rationale that John uses to support his conclusion that the things from God are beneficial while things of the world are negative (lacking the love of the father; vv. 15-16; c.f., Rom 8:1-11).  

Resolution: "Whoever does the will of God abides forever (v. 17)."

From John's perspective, doing the will of God is not a call to moral living or being a good person alone but is a call to complete devotion (1 John 5:3-4).  "For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith."  The faith that John is referring to is one that satisfies our deepest desire (John 6:35).  See also, Psalms 16:11: 

"You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

So what John is referring to is a joy that comes from valuing something infinite, something that will remain with the individual for eternity.  Rather than a 30 min Netflix show that gives your brain a moment of pleasure; depending, valuing and trusting God results in infinite pleasure. 

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