1 John 2:15-17 – Distractions
In this short passage in chapter 2, the Apostle John begins to really unpack for us what it looks like to truly follow Christ. He has given us several analogies and told us what we ought to do in loving one another and walking in the light, but now he gets down to the nitty-gritty. John gives a list of things that are in the world that have no place in the life of a follower of Christ: desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, and pride in possessions. For the trained church mind, there are most likely several cardinal sins that we could assign to each given category in John’s list. For example: lust and gluttony can fit quite well under desires of the flesh. Greed and envy can fit under desires of the eyes. And idolatry and arrogance can fit under pride in possessions. All behaviors that a lot of churchgoers have already modified in their lives.
But what if this list was not just limited to what we would categorize as morally wrong (after all most of the non-Christian world would call these wrong as well)? What if this warned us against good things becoming a distraction in our pursuit of Christ? What if desires of the flesh really spoke to our desperate need to be comfortable? What if desires of the eyes really spoke to our inability to see past the exterior of a person? What if pride in possessions was meant to redefine our understanding of what it really means to be blessed by God in this life?
Scripture is constantly going to draw our attention to not only the big, gaping sin in our lives, but also the subtle, unnoticed sin that we pass over because it might be attached to a good thing. We will overlook hours and hours spent on Facebook because the Bible never says “Thou shalt not spend hours and hours on Facebook.” Husbands and fathers will justify working long hours at work because they have to keep up with the Joneses despite their Biblical call to lead their family. Women will justify controlling their husbands or boyfriends because they believe themselves to be better suited for leading in the relationship despite their Biblical call to submit. We will pursue bigger houses, nicer cars, fancier vacations, better gadgets, and more TV channels simply because the Bible never mentions these things specifically. John is warning us here not only to look out for the things in the world that everyone knows to be sin, but to look out for the “good” things that distract us from being sensitive to the Spirit in our lives.
Ask anyone who has walked with the Lord for years and years and who has allowed the Lord to examine every aspect of their lives and they will tell you that the closer you get to the Lord the more He demands from you. He’s not satisfied with us just not killing anyone and going to church on Sundays. He wants our all. He wants us to submit every aspect of our lives to Him. Christ was not about His comfort or career in His life on earth. He was not concerned with savings, stock portfolios, investments, or appearances. He even went so far as to say that even the animals care more about that than the Son of Man (Matthew 8:20).
I want to close with a bit of clarification. I am not at all trying to say that there is anything wrong with buying a house, getting a new car, or having a job that allows you to support your family even above and beyond what you might need. Nor am I trying to say that the blessings of the Lord are never physical in nature. What I am trying to say is that we too often pursue the stuff of this world under the guise of pursuing Christ. We pursue the things of this world in the name of Christ. John is warning us that the two don’t mix. We can’t pursue both the things of the world and the Creator of it. One will always fall by the wayside. One will always distract us from the other. Which one are you pursuing? What areas in your life are distracting you from pursuing Him? As always, if you have questions about what it really means to pursue Christ and Christ alone, please feel free to ask. I am not perfect but I want my life to be one of complete devotion to Him. I’ve grown tired of being distracted. Let’s seek Him together. I love y’all more than you know. Grace and peace,