As human beings, personally speaking, it is difficult ( almost impossible, actually ) not to form some kind of attachment to things! We become attached to our lovers, our own bodies, the houses we live in, the vehicles we drive, even the jobs we do. We know these things don't define us, that they are not what make us happy or complete, but still, we cling to these things as if they're what life's all about. ( ? ) The question we should ask here is, 'IS life More than our jobs, our vehicles, our houses, our bodies ( this physicality ) & our lovers?' If we didn't have all these things, even the natural & necessary accoutrements for what we normally think of as Life on this planet: would we still be 'us'? Depending on who you ask, the answer could be a resounding 'yes', or 'most definitely not'! Without the necessary accoutrements, like the breath of life, food, water, et cetera, can we truly be 'alive'?
The verse quoted above has reference more to the 'world' of Jesus' day & later, but it also can be applied universally. Much of the problem in this world, as well as in that 'world', was based on a kind of 'love' or attachment to physicality, to things. When Jesus came along & challenged the prevailing notion that the Temple ( et cetera ) was their salvation, He threatened the livelihood of the Jewish religious leaders. By speaking of thing beyond their understanding, He inspired many of the ordinary, average Jews ( who were already chafing under Rome's saddle ) to rebellion, though they misunderstood His intentions ( ? ). As it transpired, however, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' Day put Jesus to death for His troubles, but it was too late; the rebellion He had fomented, or stirred up ( encouraged? ) rather, became a full-scale revolution that wiped their homeland off the map, in a manner of speaking: their Temple was gone & with it, all the necessary accoutrements of Jewish life as they knew it!
Don't get me wrong; the Jewish religion thrives as one of the three major religions of the world, yet today! But yet, since there is no Temple, the Jews cannot truly practice their religion as laid out in their most Holy Book, what we know ( for the most part ) as the Hebrew Scriptures, mainly the Pentateuch, the so-called 'Five Books of Moses'. This was the 'world' that the apostle John referred to when he issued his warning in the next passage, that it was 'passing away' ( I John 2:17 ( I Corinthians 7:31 ).
The first part of his warning, though, stands as a Universal Truth, because, as in Jesus' Day, we as human beings, tend to become attached to the things of our 'world', even to the point of idolatry! This is not to say that we shouldn't have anything but the most necessary things to sustain 'life', just that we shouldn't cling to them, or become so attached to them that we begin to think we are nothing without them! Everybody, myself included, loves to feel loved, loves to have a good reliable vehicle for transportation, even a nice, comfortable house to 'live' in. It is, however, when we begin to think that those things define us, that without those necessary accoutrements, we can't truly be alive, be happy, be complete, that the problems set in!
'What is the problem with being attached to things?' one might ask. Well, beside the fact that the answer to that question should already be clear from the words above, therein lies the key to the problem! When we become attached to anything but who we really are, not just as a human being, but as a spiritual, or spirit being, we begin to identify ourselves with those things, so when we begin to lose those things, which we will ( it's inevitable ), then we tend to think that we are losing ourselves, because our 'world' is falling apart!
'As above, so below'; it is well-nigh impossible to have NO attachments: neither should we have NO attachments! 'Now, wait a moment', one might well say, 'didn't you just tell us that having attachments is the problem?' Actually, no, I didn't. A careful reading of the text will show that the warning was against becoming overly attached. Realizing we are More helps us not to become overly attached. History has shown us, for the most part ( there HAVE been several documented cases ) that when a human being goes with the necessary accoutrements for too long, it is not long for this world. We MUST in that sense be attached to certain things, food & water being the most necessary to sustain biological life!
Life, though, like us, is More than biology! When our bodies go the way of the natural world, WE will still be here. Our spirit will endure. It doesn't matter whether one believes their spirit will spend an 'Eternity' in 'Heaven' ( or that OTHER 'place' ) or whether one understands that they will simply animate a different body in a different 'world', the fact is that the Spirit lives on! There are those, as well, who believe, erroneously, that the spirit itself will perish when one's biology passes away without having accepted Christianity, or Jesus as the Christ. But that is neither here nor there.................
The apostle warned his readers that, 'If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him'! That, in & of itself, should remind us that he was writing to a specific people. Although Christians today refer to their 'Heavenly Father' ( I was one ); the warning here was to the Jewish people, the religious leaders in particular, the overwhelming majority of who did NOT have the love of the 'Father'. In the way of clarification, the God of the Hebrew peoples was a male persona, that being a patriarchal society, or culture. That being said, 'He' was simply their perception of the Source of All, who ( which? ) is not a person at all, but simply Pure Energy, that which makes us who & what we are!
Being who & what we are, then, we are not dependent on the things that pertain to this world to sustain Life. For one thing, we are Life itself! This biology would not long survive without the presence of the spirit. Nothing we do in this biology transpires, however consciously or unconsciously, without the yearning of the Spirit. Now, before we venture too far down that path, clearly, though some will undoubtedly perceive an allusion ( or is that 'illusion'? ) to the 'Holy Spirit' of Christianity, I'm simply referring to the fact that everything we do in the body ( 'the flesh' ) originates in our individual spirit, again, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Loving our 'world', even the things in it, is not wrong or evil in & of itself. It is when we allow these attachments, like the Ego, to determine our actions, to define who we are, that the problem reveals itself. They have then become, in biblical terminology, an idol! To topple these idols, we MUST realize, first, that we are More than this biology, we are More than these things. secondly, we must then determine within ourselves, our innermost beings, to employ our biological machines to accomplish in actuality what we know to be true in reality!
Charles Haddon Shank