Have you ever wondered how John 3:16 (“God so loved the world that he gave his only son”) can go together with 1 John 2:15 (“Do not love the world or the things in the world”)–that is, how they can exist together without being contradictory?
Should we love the world or not? Or maybe a better question is, why would John warn us about loving the world, yet affirm that God loved the world? I found this quick quote by D.A. Carson which seems to get to the heart of the issue (which happens to be the way we humans get tempted to “love” the world).
God’s love for the world is commendable because it manifests itself in awesome self-sacrifice;
our love for the world is repulsive when it lusts for evil participation.
God’s love for the world is praiseworthy because it brings the transforming Gospel to it;
our love for the world is ugly because we seek to be conformed to the world.
God’s love for the world issues in certain individuals being called out from the world and into the fellowship of Christ’s followers;
our love for the world is sickening where we wish to be absorbed into the world.
In other words, what we call love often turns out to be not love at all–especially when we match it up against what the Lord shows for the world, which is the standard and definition of love.