Summary: Love of the world and love of God are mutually exclusive, just like a healthy diet cannot be full of both twinkies and broccoli
Twinkies or Broccoli
August 14, 2005
Opening illustration – I need someone to help me eat a snack. This is an either/or demonstration. Either eat a good snack, or eat a bad snack food. Maybe we’ll have a little of both. In one bag is the twinkie. Classic junk snack. In the other is the broccoli.
Now, let’s think about this for a minute. On the one hand, you have twinkies. Twinkies are classic junk food, aren’t they?
Hostess estimates it uses eight million pounds of sugar, seven million pounds of flour, and one million eggs to produce the 500 million Twinkies baked every year. Twinkies are cream-filled sponge cakes which pack 160 calories per cake. Yet for all their nutritional drawbacks Twinkies are a hugely popular treat in the USA.
On the other hand you have broccoli. Now, personally, I like broccoli, but like the taste of it or not, broccoli’s good for you. It’s the superhero of vegetables. It has:
Vitamin A, beta carotene, folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin C, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
So, having a twinkie every once in a while is not going to kill you, but as a regular part of your daily diet, it may shorten your life. Having broccoli as a regular part of your diet may actually help you live longer, and be more healthy.
It’s up to us to choose how we eat, what we consume, isn’t it? We can eat well, with the resulting positive impact on our physical health…or we can eat twinkies, with the resulting negative impact on our bodies.
It’s also up to us to choose what we put into our spirits. And, yes, this twinkies or broccoli illustration, and that’s the memorable title of this morning’s message –
Twinkies or Broccoli
actually does have something to do with what we’re going to look at today.
1 John 2:15-17 (NIV) Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Here we see the apostle John giving us a command. Do not love the world. As a command, it makes it clear that we have a choice. We can obey this command, or we can ignore it. But we cannot say it’s optional in a spiritual sense, if we truly want to be followers of Christ.
If we ignore it, we’re denying the authority of scripture. While there are some things in the Word that are clearly both/and, this is one of those things that is very clearly either/or. Either we love the world, or we love God. There’s no real in between.
And John presents this idea pretty seriously, doesn’t he? He says, if we love the world, our love for God isn’t real love…Love for the world and love for God are incompatible.
Now, this is where our twinkie analogy might break down just a little, because I might be able to actually enjoy twinkies and broccoli, though not together. An occasional twinkie will not kill me, I don’t think.
However, our analogy still works when you think of it this way: What we love is what we’re committed to, not just what we enjoy, or gives us pleasure. We cannot be committed to a diet of junk food, and to a healthy diet at the same time.
Eating lots of twinkies for lunch, and then nothing but healthy broccoli for dinner, doesn’t undo the lunchtime twinkie damage, does it?
They’re incompatible. John’s saying, if anyone loves the twinkies…if you’re committed to a diet of twinkies, you can’t also, at the same time, say you’re committed to a healthy diet. If you say you love God, but it’s clear by your attitude, your heart, illustrated perhaps by your behavior, that you love the world, then, in fact, you don’t really love God – no matter what you say.
Wow! What an indictment! Isn’t that something to consider? That’s what brought this illustration to mind to begin with.
We have this tendency to want to straddle the good and the bad. To have one foot planted in the world, and the other in the things of God, the love of God.
Part of this tendency is because we’re in the world, and we’re supposed to be. And, after all, God loves the world, doesn’t He? Everybody’s favorite verse tells us that:
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world.
And didn’t Jesus pray in John chapter 17 as He prayed for His disciples: Lord, don’t take them out of the world, but protect them from the evil one?