That's where we left off yesterday, after talking about how much I don't love this world (and I think I'm not alone in that). But there's this but, and it really complicates things for me. For all of us, really.
It would be nice if we could just say that we don't love this world and that that's fine, since we were created for another one. It would be nice if we could just let it go and be "citizens of Heaven" and disown our membership here. It would be nice if we could just say that we're only living this life for the next one and that we don't have to be bothered by this world because it's just temporary.
But God so loved the world.
These are a few of the most well-known words in all of Scripture - for God so loved the world. God so loved this world that He sent His Son to die for it and to walk out of that grave for it. God so loved this world that He went literally to the ends of it to reconcile it to Himself. God so loved this world that He sent a message of grace into it to give this world the kind of hope that I'm trying to hold onto for myself when I say, selfishly, that I don't love this world.
But the truth is that if God so loved this world, then God so loves this world. And if God so loves this world, then so must I.
That's what we're called to do, as those loved by God - we are called to tell the world how much God loves them. We are called to be God's ambassadors here, helping to spread the very same message that we ourselves fell in love with. We are called to bring hope to the hopeless, light to the darkness, and yes, love to the hate.
That doesn't mean that we fall in love with the world. It doesn't mean that we throw ourselves in and become just like this broken place. It doesn't mean that we affirm everything the world is up to or that we become complicit - or worse, complacent - with it. It doesn't mean that we have to go out and partake of everything the world tries to offer us. It doesn't mean that we offer ourselves to the world.
This is one of those subtle things that makes all the difference. Most of us think that we go to God and then offer ourselves to the world on His behalf, but that's not how mission and calling work. We offer ourselves to God, and He gives us to the world. And why does He give us to the world?
Because He so loves the world.
That's what we've got to get straight in our heads, and in our hearts, about this whole thing. We don't love the world. We don't love its brokenness and its trials and its tribulations and its challenges and its darkness. God doesn't love those things, either. But He does love this world. And so, we must find a way to do the same - to love this world. With the love of God.