God and the world

The Freeman - - OPINION -

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, 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 oc­ca­sion to love God. This should be made clear to ev­ery­one as early as pos­si­ble.

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 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.

And pre­cisely be­cause the world has strayed from God, God has to send his only son to save it. Again St. John ex­pressed this very well when he said: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only be­got­ten Son, that whoso­ever be­lieveth in him should not per­ish, but have everlasting life." (3,16)

The point to make is that we should 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 poses 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 that we will al­ways win with him in our war of peace and love with the world.

‘We need to be care­ful with the world be­cause of the

many dan­gers it con­tains.’

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