Who or What Do I Love?
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. 1 John 2:15
In my drug use, I would never have said I was in love with my pills. I didn’t have an emotional attachment to them, and I wouldn’t have identified myself as having had an affair. To my wife though, I chose the pills over her, sacrificing our relationship for the sake of my addiction. To my wife, it certainly looked like I loved my pills more than I loved her. When our lives fell apart and my wife pointed this out, I objected. No, I love you! I may have felt that way, but my actions revealed a very different reality.
I always understood love as an emotion. Growing up, I loved my parents. I had an emotional attachment to them. I loved my best friend, and later when I met my wife, I loved her. Those loves were all different, but they were all primarily a feeling. I feel love for you, therefore I love you. What I misunderstood, was that love isn’t just a feeling. It’s also an action.
In today’s passage, John said that love of the world is incompatible with love of God. The root word – agapao – means to take pleasure in, or, to long for. This love may start as an emotional impulse, but it is realized in our actions. The question from today’s passage is, Who or what do we love? The answer is revealed, not necessarily in what we claim to feel, but rather in our behavior – those things we actively pursue to find our pleasure, purpose, and meaning.
In my addiction, I said I loved my wife. And I felt that way. I did have a strong emotional attachment to her. My behavior revealed though, that I sought my pleasure, joy, and meaning in my pills. If you could have observed the entirety of my behavior during my addiction, it would have left you with no doubt about that which was most important to me – my pills.
So, the question remains. Who or what do I love? As a Christian, I can claim I love God, but do my actions reveal this? Do I daily find my joy, purpose, and meaning in him? Or do my actions reveal that I’m still trying to find happiness in my appetite for all the world has to offer? This isn’t just about drugs. I can be sober and still follow me. The problem, as John pointed out, is that I cannot love both God and the world at the same time. Daily, I must choose one or the other.