Sunday we sang this hymn by Laurence Houseman (a brother of the famous poet A.E. Houseman).
The beginning of the fifth verse jumped out at me:
How shall we love thee, holy hidden Being?
If we love not the world which thou hast made?
This presents a conundrum: How can we reconcile this question of loving the world for the sake of learning to know and love the world’s maker when Scripture also clearly teaches that we are not to love the world and the things of the world…
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. I John 2:15-16
Is probably the most commonly quoted passage on this subject, but notice it says ” the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” not the people, and the flowers and trees and rivers. In other words we are not to love things in such a way as to place them at the height of our affections (lust) but we are to love what God has made as a way of seeing more of who God is and because the things God made (although broken) were made good and still have much of that goodness.
We can rejoice too, because we know that all things are being renewed and remade to accurately reflect their maker and to be truly lovable. In the end the new heavens and the new earth will reveal God to us in a way we can’t imagine. And they will be completely redundant because God himself will dwell with us and we will know him as he is!