There are two verses in the Bible that are written by the same author and seem to send an opposite message:
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1 John 2:15 NIV). That’s pretty clear!
“God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16 NIV). That looks like a big contradiction right there.
“The world” is used two ways in these verses. The first verse refers to the world’s value system, and the second refers to the world’s people. We are to love people, no matter what choices they make, but we are to hate the value system (e.g., prejudice, racism, injustice, sexism, war).
The problem is, we often get it reversed. We love the value system and hate the people. Christians do this all the time. Instead of being different, we can be just as materialistic, just as hedonistic, and just as enmeshed in the culture. That’s backwards.
For the rest of your life, you’ll face great pressures to conform to the culture. This was Israel’s biggest problem for thousands of years. They wanted to be like other nations. Yet God gave them all kinds of moral, civil, and ceremonial laws to make them different on purpose.
God has done the same for you and me. We don’t live under Old Testament law, but God has told us exactly how we should live and how we get the wisdom and power to stand out in this world: “Don’t copy the behavior or values of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
One reason you may not know what God wants you to do in life is because you may be too acculturated with this culture. Often this happens without you realizing it. But you can’t think like the world and think like God thinks. You have to make a choice.
The problem with following culture is that it’s all temporary. You need to follow something that is eternal: God’s Word.
Fill your mind with God’s truth, and let it transform your life by changing the way you think.