God and the world

God and the world

WE need to clarify a few points about the relation between God and the world in general. While it’s true that a number of gospel passages picture the world as bad, it does not mean that God and the world are inherently opposed to each other.

On the contrary, God and the world should merit the same love, since we can only have one love, and our love for God should be the same but much more if not infinitely more elevated than our love for the world.  Our love can only be one because love is only possible with God who is the source, pattern, end and energy for love. Our love should start and end with God, and everything between the start and end of our love should simply be a means and an occasion to love God.

Yes, it’s true that we need to be careful with the world, because of the many dangers it contains. St. John articulated this warning very well when he said: “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 Jn 2,16).   As corollaries to this truth of our faith, Christ tells us that if we follow him we will be hated by the world that we have to conquer the world with him, etc., etc. But these do not take away the fact that the world is a creation of God and therefore good, though spoiled by our sin.

The point to make is that we ought to have the same attitude of God toward the world, as shown to us concretely by Christ. When we have Christ’s mind and heart, we will love the world and do everything to bring it back from its alienated state to him from whom it came and to whom it belongs. We would not be afraid of the world that much, because with Christ we can conquer it insofar as it is opposed to God. Rather we have to love the world the way God loves it, without being worldly.

This means that if we truly love God, we should not run away from the world and the many challenges it poises on us. Rather we should love it, immerse ourselves in it, make use of what is true, good and beautiful in it and purify it of what is not. It would clearly be a wrong understanding of what and how it is to love God if we equate loving God with running away from the world, or worse, hating it. The negative and evil things we can find in the world should only spur us to love the world the way God loves it—sending his only begotten Son to it. In other words, we have to be “alter Christus” to love the world properly.

We have to understand that loving the world will necessarily involve a lot of suffering and self-denial. We should not be afraid to bear all this. Christ has assured us we will always win with him in our war of peace and love with the world.