When I was growing up, there was a TV show that my family watched called “I Dream of Jeannie.” In this show, an astronaut (Tony) found a bottle and in it was a blond-haired genie named Jeannie. Tony would wish for something (or Jeannie thought he did), his wish would be granted, and then the problems began. Of course, like all Hollywood sitcoms, all came out well in 30 minutes (or less). But I wonder how many of us wish we had a genie’s three wishes . . . and if we did, what would we wish for?
1 John 2:15-17 NRSV
Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for 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. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
John writes that we are not to love the world or the things in it. The word translated “love” is agapao. According to Strong’s, it means: “to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly; to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing.” In other words, nothing here should be pleasing to us. We shouldn’t believe that anything in this world would make us content.
What do we want? What do I want? I think that we are beginning to understand how fragile their happiness is when their happiness is based on material possessions. But even if we base our happiness on relationships or experiences, how permanent is that? People get mad and leave (or die). Experiences are often not nearly as good as the anticipation.
Solomon wrote, in Ecclesiastes 1:2b-3, 8 NKJV:
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? . . . The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
What we gain here on earth satisfies, but usually only for a moment. Only Father God is eternal and only in Him can we find eternal contentment. John describes this life with three characteristics: the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride in riches. When we choose to love the things that are here, we are choosing a second master. The Lord Jesus warned us that we cannot serve two masters:
No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Matthew 6:24 NRSV
We cannot live with one foot in heaven and one in the world. We cannot serve God and yet long to be here with the things and people that surround us. If we ever hope to be a strong Church, we must decide whom we serve. If I ever hope to be a spiritually strong believer, I must place my hopes, my passions, my desires in heaven with the Father.