You Are What You Love  │ Series: First John


You Are What You Love│1 John 2:15-17 │ Pastor Adam Kohlstrom

Love is not an emotion but a habitual way of being. If so, can we “learn to love”? Can you think of a food you now eat or activity you now do regularly that you used to dislike? How did you learn to “love it”? How do we shape (or re-shape) our loves?


1 John 2:15

“To be human is to have a heart. You can’t not love. So the question isn’t whether you will love something as ultimate; the question is what you will love as ultimate. And you are what you love” (James K.A. Smith). How does such an idea add urgency to John’s command not to “love the world”?


“[An idol] is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God” (Tim Keller). How does this relate to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:24? to John’s command here in 1 John 2:15? to the end of John’s letter in 1 John 5:21?


How can we reconcile that “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16) with the command: “Do not love the world…” (1 John 2:15)? We sing: “Our call to war, to love the captive soul / But to rage against the captor.” How does this lyric embody both loving and not loving “the world”? When have you seen such a “loving/not loving” approach lived out well?


How do these two scholars resolve the apparent tension between “loving” and “not loving” the world: “In the one [John 3:16] it is ‘the holy love of Redemption’; in the other [1 John 2:15] it is ‘the selfish love of participation’ (Henry Alford). The first aims ‘to save the sinner’s person’; the second, ‘to share his sin’ (John Ebrard)”? Guided by this distinction, how might you decide if you wrongly “love the world”?


1 John 2:16

Society insists our “desires” reveal who we should be and we must act on those desires (“follow your heart”) to be healthy and fulfilled persons. What does John warn here about our “desires” (also read: Ephesians 2:3; Romans 8:5-6; Galatians 5:16-17,24; Titus 2:11-12)?


1 John 2:17

According to this verse (see also: 1 Corinthians 7:31; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18), why is it foolish to “love the world” rather than the Father?


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