Pastor Judah Smith, who is known for spiritually mentoring celebrity singer Justin Bieber, explains in a message what it means to not love the world or the things in the world, and how to move away from a life that is characterized by perpetually finding something new to want.
Smith, lead pastor of The City Church in Seattle, Washington, started his sermon last week by reading 1 John 2:15, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
The verse doesn't say love "for" the Father, but "of" the Father, he underlined, and continued to read verses 16 and 17: "For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."
Smith, who is also known as a spiritual mentor to football star Russell Wilson, said he wants to talk about wanting, and what it means to leave the world. The title of his talk was, "One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure."
"Have you really wanted something? … Have you ever got what you really wanted?" he asked the congregation, and then said when we got it, we thought what else can we want now.
"One day it's our treasure; give us some time and it will just be trash. … The wheel of want keeps rolling on. ... I think one of the scariest things that can happen to the human condition and the human experience is actually to get what you want," the pastor said.
"Is that really living, perpetually finding something new to want?" he asked.
When John says, "Do not love the world," he doesn't mean, do not love the people or enjoy art, sport or good food. God created the world and He loves it," he added.
John is, instead, referring to an attitude or an outlook that is typified by society, or proposed to us by society, he explained. "And it is defined by the word 'want.'"
The desires of the flesh mean wanting your own way, he went on to explain. The desires of the eyes mean wanting everything for yourself, and the pride of life is wanting to appear important.
"If we're not careful, wanting replaces worship," Smith warned.
"How do we get off the wheel of wanting, wanting and wanting? ... What's the answer?" he asked.
"It all started with questioning whether or not God really loves me and has my best interest in mind," he added. That's what the devil suggested to Eve, as recorded in Genesis 3:5, he said.
This is also reflected in the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. This son didn't trust in his father, but the father accepted him back and celebrated his homecoming, showing an unspeakable love after he repented.
What is repentance? "Will you allow yourself to be loved like this? That is the ultimate obstacle in the human experience," the pastor told the congregation.
God asks, "Will you let me love you in your selfish, simple, lustful state?" Smith said, concluding that it's in God's love that our wanting will begin to wane.