“Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. ” 1 John 2:15-16 (New Living Translation)
As part of my Girl Scout experience, I was given the opportunity to earn several merit badges. I specifically remember working on my camping badge and learning how to utilize the North Star if I found myself lost in the woods. Later I discovered that there was another “north”. It’s called true north. It differs from the compass north I used in Girl Scouts in that true north is depended on the traveler first knowing “where they are”. It is important to know our “spiritual true north.” Not knowing our true north leaves us vulnerable to Satan lies and exposed to misdirection by the world.
What does finding your true north mean? In Bill George’s book, True North, he says, “it’s the internal compass that guides you successfully through life. It is your orienting point – your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track. It’s based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations and the sources of satisfaction in your life.”
In our text, the Apostle John warns this early church to guard against allowing the world to define who they are (their values and beliefs). John’s warning is still valid in the 21st century. The world (its systems and influences) attempts to define what’s important to us in three (3) areas: the lusts of the flesh (what makes us happy), the lust of the eyes (what we have) and the pride of life (who we are). Like the world, believers are tempted to base their happiness, their security, and their significance on the things that the world offers. These are the “luxurious lies of money, materialism, and marketing.” The results of these misguided beliefs are an exhausted workforce, financially overcommitted families, and angry, disillusioned individuals. They need to find their True North.
Solomon found neither happiness, nor security, or significance in the things the world offered. On the contrary, he described the pursuit of these things as “vanity” or meaningless (Ecc. 12:8). We need only to peruse the latest tabloid headlines at the grocery checkout to see the broken promises of fame and riches in the lives of individuals who thought “having it all” would make a difference. Unfortunately they failed to look at the only Person who is able to make good on that expectation—Jesus Christ who came to provide life more abundantly (John 10:10). They failed to find their True North.
Believers are not to “love” (agapao) the world or the things in it. This is not a statement of a “minimalist” but the wisdom of God who warns that we are neither to focus on nor be envious of the things of this world—especially the things that are counter to the will of God (Rom. 1:25) . Paul warned the church at Rome (and us today) not to be conformed to the world (in its thinking and behavior) but transformed by the renewing of their mind (by the revealed Word of God) (Rom. 12:2). While we as believers cannot divest ourselves from the world, we are not to look like the world. Our lives are to be a reflection of who we are—the redeemed children of God (Luke 1:68; John 1:12). We are to keep our eye on our True North, Jesus Christ.
Happiness, security, and significance can only be found in God. He is our exceeding great reward (Gen. 15:1). We are complete in Him (Col. 2:10). He is our strong high tower (Ps. 144:2). Jesus understood the challenge of living in this fallen world. That why He prayed to the Father not to remove His disciples (including future believers) from the world but to “keep them” from evil while living in the world (John 17:15). Knowing our True North, Jesus Christ, will enable us to follow the right path.
SELAH: In life’s journey we are often uncertain where we stand, where we are going or what is the right path for us personally. Meditating on God’s Word will help you to “remove the cobwebs” and see more clearly. Meditate on 1 John 2:15-16 in your favorite bible translation. Begin with prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to join you in this time of meditation. Read the text aloud and slowly; note “any word or phrase” that seemed to capture your attention. Read it a second time paying attention to “the tone and emotion” the Apostle John used in this text. Read it a final time and then sit silently and expectantly for one minute. Then ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through His Word. What does He have to say to you regarding your “True North”? Journal what you hear—share it with a friend.