“It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Have you ever heard anyone say those words? Maybe they just came home from vacation, and they had a good time, but they were happy to be home. There is a big difference between being a tourist somewhere, and making your home in that place. I have made several trips to Florida for vacations. As a tourist, I was just visiting, seeing the scenery, going to the beaches, checking out the tourist spots, and having a lot of fun. But the place I visit doesn’t have a lasting impact on how I live my life, because I knew I would eventually be going home. I didn’t look like someone from Florida, talk like them, or even care what they thought about me. Yeah, I looked like a tourist from the Midwest, but that was alright with me, because that is who I was.
On the other hand, if you move to Florida, that place becomes your home. You may begin to talk like those people talk (you know, that goofy southern accent). You will take on a new group of friends. You will probably move your money to a bank in that area. You might get a job at Sea World. You may even begin to like the sports teams from that area, like the Miami Dolphins, Orlando Magic, or Tampa Bay Devilrays. Everything about your life is affected by where your home is.
John wants us to know that as a Christian, you are a tourist. You are just visiting this world, but your real home is in the Kingdom of God. We are here in this world, but God wants our values, our likes, our interests to reflect our real home. This world is messed up. It is full of sin and people who want to rebel against God. But sadly, many Christians act like this is home. They take on the same values and attitudes as the world has. They are entertained by the same things, have similar values, and may even give up some of their strong convictions about God to please their neighbors. John wants us to remember where our real home is. God wants to bless us, but if we let the world affect us, eventually we will act like the world.
This is one of those tests of true faith. When a person becomes a follower of Jesus, he has a new permanent address. Gradually the love we have for this world will wane, and a deep desire for the Kingdom of God will grow. If I still love the world or the things in the world, that may be a sign that I never really trusted Jesus and changed my allegiance to him (see 1 John 2:15-17). This doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy anything here. God created this world for His glory and our joy. But the world is also deeply affected by the sin, greed, sexual immorality, and evil of the people. Every world system and political idea is marked by the Fall. So while we can enjoy this world, we should enjoy it as a tourist, not as a resident. So our enjoyment of this place is tempered with our love for home.
So remember, the world is a nice place to visit… Take in it’s beauty, see the sights, but live your life in such a way that people know you are a tourist, and that you have a much better home somewhere else.