Worldliness / The World
The world is a perpetual caricature of itself; at every moment it is the mockery and the contradiction of what it is pretending to be. But as it nevertheless intends all the time to be something dignified, at the next moment it corrects and checks and tries to cover up the absurd thing it was; so that a conventional world, a world of masks, is superimposed on the reality, and passes in every sphere of human interest for the reality itself. Humor is the perception of this illusion, whilst the convention continues to be maintained, as if we had not observed its absurdity.
-- George Santayana
Some argue that the term â€œworldâ€ here simply has neutral connotationsâ€”the created human world. But the characteristic use of â€œthe worldâ€ (ho kosmos) elsewhere in the narrative is with negative overtonesâ€”the world in its alienation from and hostility to its creatorâ€™s purposes. It makes better sense in a soteriological context to see the latter notion as in view. God loves that which has become hostile to God. The force is not, then, that the world is so vast that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it, but rather that the world has become so alienated from God that it takes an exceedingly great kind of love to love it at all.
-A. Lincoln, The Gospel According to St. John (Henrickson 2005), 154.