Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:8, 15-17)
It is not hard to figure out why if we love God’s Kingdom, we should neither love nor fear the world. The Kingdom is eternal, while this world is limited by space and time and is in fact passing away because it is not eternal. We are not to live for, love or fear, things which are temporary. This includes not only pain, but all sorrow, sighing, suffering, but also Satan who belongs to the world that is passing away. John the Evangelist clearly reminds us that both darkness and this world are temporary things which will pass away, while God’s Kingdom endures for all eternity. One time, St John Chrysostom, writing to his friend and supporter, the Deaconess Olympia, chided her not to be so afraid of things happening in this world. Even if they are bad and overwhelming, still they are temporary and have no permanent effect. We who let the events of life so upset us, can help ourselves by reminding ourselves that this world is temporary and so everything that happens here will not endure, and in this sense is not of ultimate purpose or importance. “This too will pass” is part of popular wisdom which recognizes that everything on earth is temporary. We need only wait on the Lord and He will accomplish His will in His time (admittedly, this is not easy to do as it requires solid faith, even if just as small as the mustard seed (Matthew 17:20).
“So why are you fearing temporal things, which flow past like river streams? For this is the nature of present things, whether they be pleasant or painful. Another prophet compared all the happiness of mankind not to grass, but to something else even more ephemeral, when he pronounced everything in this life to be the flower of the grass.
[Chrysostom uses a theme common in the bible – grass and flowers are temporary things that last only a very short while and then pass away. In our modern world, we often take flowers to be the sign of beauty, goodness, even love, but the ancients (including the biblical writers) saw them as something which last only a very brief while. In the Bible, flowers are the very sign of how temporary even good things (like beauty) are. And as Chrysostom notes, if the grass is temporary (lasting a season), grass flowers last even a shorter time period and are thus even more ephemeral. “You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning; in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers” (Psalm 90:5-6).]
He did not so describe just one portion of earthly affairs in this way – such as riches, or luxury, or power, or honors; but all the things that appear to men to be splendid encompassed in a single word – glory – when he brought in the image of the grass in saying, ‘All the glory of man is like the flower of the grass‘ (Isaiah 11:6). . . . Therefore, do not let yourself be troubled by what’s happening. And stop beseeching this or that person for help, and running after shadows – for this is what human assistance amounts to – and instead, ceaselessly beseech God, whom you serve, simply to give a nod; and in one moment [mia kairou] of time everything is brought into proper order. . . . For he is able to accomplish not only what we expect and hope for, but what is much more, and what is infinitely greater. Therefore Paul says, ‘to the one who is able to do more than everything, even exceedingly more than we can ask or think’ (Eph 3:20).” (LETTERS TO SAINT OLYMPIA, pp 46-47)
Chrysostom tells Olympia to remain faithful to God because God is eternal, while the suffering of this world lasts only for a time. We don’t need to fear the events of this world or imagine that their effects are indelible and unchangeable. We need only invest our hope in the Lord and in His Kingdom, and then bide out time because God will triumph and His victory will be eternal. All of the problems of this world, as horrible as they are, are also temporary and temporal – they belong to this world, but don’t last forever. [Of course we recognize that the temporary nature of suffering is not neccessarily of comfort to us when we are in the midst of a crisis or suffering pain because either might seem like they will never end to us. But all things which occur in time have a beginning and an end, nothing lasts forever.]
“In this post-everything world we are not post-mistreatment of the powerless, we are not post-hunger even with our abundance of food, and we are not post-warfare because we still choose not to beat our swords into plowshares. The Light of Christ is needed as much now as ever; as relevant today as ever. … As long as people sit in darkness, the call to follow Jesus will be relevant.” (Scott Borden in FOSSIL OR LEAVEN, p 21)
Darkness is real, but it doesn’t triumph over the light. We may experience nearly total darkness, and yet God promises it will pass and the Light will shine out of the darkness. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Christ has permanently changed everything. This world and this darkness is passing away, but the Kingdom which endures for all eternity is coming.
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16)