Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Divine Parent 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 Divine Parent but from the world. – 1 John 2:15-16 (NRSV)
This is a Dear John Letter.
Dear First John,
I’m trying here, but I am just not feeling your letter to us. I mean, God created the world and everything in it, and called it good, and now we aren’t supposed to love it?
I agree there are some things in the world that have gone somewhat wrong since the Divine Parent first bequeathed us the raw materials. Among them: all the pollutions, unchecked corporate greed, and The Gap’s spring fashion collection (let’s be honest, high-waisted jeans flatter no one).
But even if we make wrong turns, actively misuse God’s gifts, and are ragey with one another in traffic, there is so much to love here. Humans, co-creators with God, have invented so many cool things. Chocolate mousse with coconut whipped cream. Hammocks. YouTube videos of people doing oddly satisfying things. Motorized wheelchairs. Disco music! If you’re saying there’s no heaven on earth, John, you’re wrong.
Finally, a false binary I’d like to smash. Can’t we do the will of God and love the world? Especially today, Valentine’s Day? One of the saints said that life is Love School. We’re here to learn how to love better, and every relationship we are in, with parents and children and friends and lovers and gruff neighbors, helps us to love better the One who first loved us.
So you know what, I John? I love you. There. I said it first. I hope—though the world keeps breaking your heart—that you take it as a sign your heart is actually working as it was intended.
God, we know we kind of suck sometimes. Thank you for sticking with us, and loving us and this broken world, just as we are and as we are (still) becoming.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of First Congregational Church UCC in Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church, Standing Naked Before God, and her newest baby, Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World.