Saturday, January 19, 2013

Meditations on 1 John – XIII

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone love the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and its lust; but the one who does the will of God abides forever, 1 John 2:15-17.

If our lives are spent in the pursuit of "things" then we are invested in ourselves and in the temporal and not the eternal; after all we want things so that we may use them and possess them – not, as a rule, so that we may give them away. It isn’t that having things is wrong, it is that a life of pursuing and acquiring things is a fool’s mission – for things will pass away. Yet our economy is driven not by what people need but by what people want – companies spend untold amounts of money to create desire in people – from tennis shoes to automobiles to kitchen faucets to toilet paper to watches to whiskey to children’s games, the creation and inflammation of desire is big business. We are not only pawns in the game, we are pawns who praise those who manipulate us; we may not watch the Super Bowl but we want to see the Super Bowl’s ads.

Things can give us physical pleasure, they can give us intellectual pleasure (a great book), they can provide aesthetic pleasure (a fine painting), and they can give us egotistical pleasure. We should enjoy good meals but we should not live for good meals, we should not live for food. We should beware of that which feeds our pride, whatever “that” is needs to go to the Cross – and whatever “that” is can be religious as well as materialistic.

The idea of “the pride of life” in this passage is seen in Romans 1:30 and is linked to arrogance and translated in the NASB as “boastful”. The same linkage is in 2 Timothy 3:2, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant...” Again, James uses this linkage in James 4:16, “But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” The pride of life separates us from God, it declares that we are the arbiters of life, that we are sovereign, that we will accumulate what we will, go where we will, do what we will, use what we will, decide the future.

I’ll close this post with a quote from the book of Wisdom showing the relationship between the pride (boasting) of life and arrogance:

  Wisdom 5:8-15

Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

What has our arrogance profited us?
And what good has our boasted wealth brought us?

“All those things have vanished like a shadow,
and like a rumor that passes by;

10 like a ship that sails through the billowy water, and when it has passed no trace can be found, nor track of its keel in the waves;

11 or as, when a bird flies through the air, no evidence of its passage is found; the light air, lashed by the beat of its pinions and pierced by the force of its rushing flight, is traversed by the movement of its wings, and afterward no sign of its coming is found there;

12 or as, when an arrow is shot at a target, the air, thus divided, comes together at once, so that no one knows its pathway.

13 So we also, as soon as we were born, ceased to be, and we had no sign of virtue to show, but were consumed in our wickedness.”

14 Because the hope of the ungodly man is like chaff carried by the wind, and like a light hoarfrost driven away by a storm; it is dispersed like smoke before the wind, and it passes like the remembrance of a guest who stays but a day.

 15 But the righteous live for ever,
and their reward is with the Lord;
the Most High takes care of them.

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