By Curtis Shelburne: CNJ Religion Colunist
Let’s be honest: Some days and some times in our lives are of the sort
that we just pray to get through. If most of the times of our lives are of
that sort, well, some more questions and prayer, introspection and
counsel, might be helpful.
If you’re going through a tough time right now, I’m afraid the question
I’m about to ask won’t seem helpful at all. But here it is: Is it possible
to love too much this life that God has given us?
I know. If I had asked, “Is it possible to love this world too much?” most
Christians would quickly respond, “Yes!” In fact, they’d be quoting
Scripture in their next breath. The Apostle John writes, “Do not love the
world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the
Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
Okay, next question.
No, wait a minute!
I remember as a lad worrying about such verses. I knew that much in this world has been fouled up by sin. I knew that not all of “this world” and “that which is in the world” is good. I think I see that truth even more
But I knew then, and I know now, that many features in this world and the people who inhabit it are good and beautiful and still bear unmistakably the marks of our magnificent Creator’s brush. I loved those people and things. I may love them more now, and I hope I’ll love them even more tomorrow.
Was that wrong? Is it wrong? When life seems really good at times, is it
good for us to feel a little or a lot guilty about that?
Our Puritan ancestors, whose DNA is still very much within us, says that
we should. We inherited some very good things from those folks, too, but I know now that the part of us that distrusts beauty and color as
extravagance and would accuse God himself of loving life too much is not good.
“Baby Boomers” like me got a double dose as our “flower child” contemporariies (now heading the very institutions we were told to always distrust) taught us that we should never be at all comfortable or
satisfied and that we should feel guilty if we were. “Don’t trust the status quo—ever!”
So, should we feel guilty when we come to a day or a season in our lives when we suddenly realize that much of the life that God has given us here is really good and that we love it a lot?
I’m convinced that the answer is No. We shouldn’t feel guilty; we should
feel, and be, very grateful.
The next verses in 1 John 2 make it clear that John uses the word “world” to mean “that which is sinful” in this world. It will, thank God, pass
away. But nothing that truly is from God and partakes of his beautiful and
eternal nature will ever be lost. If we truly love God most of all—more
than life itself—we’ll find that we can’t possibly be too thankful for or
enjoy too much the good and the beauty he has put into our lives.