I think, for me, there are three debating points here: 1. Trying to discern what is a 'running after', a craving after material worldly things. 2. Understanding in my life that these are temporal and passing and actually cause harm to my relationship with The Father. 3. Accepting that, again, it seems like it is what we do that enables us to live forever with God. Parallels with the parable of the sheep and goats which Jesus gave and the teaching of James in his letter: 'What good is it if you say you have faith, but don't show it by your actions? We have too the oft-repeated image of the tree giving forth its fruit in the right season-if we are children of God, filled with the Holy Spirit then automatically we will bear fruit. It was common amongst Ancient beliefs that the world was seen as divided into two clear zones. For most, it was the battle between light and dark, good and evil. The Jews believed in the present world and the age of the world to come, the age of God which was wholly good. Christian believers' thought was similar, but they recognised that in Christ the age to come had already arrived, for He had ushered it in (remember His first sermon and the prophecy from Isaiah that He preached from-Luke 4 v 14-21?) However, the world was still living in the present age, so inevitably there had to be a complete split between the Church and the world, no compromise between them. All the pronouncements of Moses to the people of Israel had become the commands of God to the Church. Now, remind yourself that 'the world' of which John writes about as being inherently evil is the world without God, that is human society organised on wrong principles and led by basic desires, false values and egotism. As John calls it, those who attach themselves to the world's aims and the world's ways are giving their lives to things which have NO future. All these things are passing away and those who spend their lives chasing them are doomed to disappointment. The people of God are ASSURED of lasting joy! Now, we don't have time to discuss how twenty first century England is founded on Christian principles, but that is a conversation it would be good to have. The Roman Empire was not built on anything which now called be termed altruistic. I think for us it is the renewed call to radical discipleship. This entails looking at every part of our life and bringing it out into the light of Christ, to test whether it is something which increases our pride and ego, or whether it builds our eternal future. Just one example: a car is used sometimes to boost the ego of its owner, but it can also be used to convey those who have no car or the elderly or used for hospital visits and so on...
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