Search This Blog

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

1 John 2.18

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming even now many Antichrists have already come.

John speaks of a single mysterious figure. One who will come and wreak havoc in the church and out. One who will be against Jesus and against his people.

But all too easy to get hung up on the when and the where and the who of this one and miss the very nowness of John's concern: the things that will mark out this strange figure are already here. In John's context, they are manifest in the false teaching of the church, in the subtle undermining of truth, in the whispers of those stirring up fear in the fellowship and then leaving. But what about us? Where are we harboring the Spirit of the Antichrist?

A difficult sentence to swallow but I know that I am guilty. Anti - Christ. Against Christ. In opposition to him. Any thought and fear that would make him less, that would seek to diminish and shrink, squash and squeeze the Lord of the Cosmos into a tiny little plastic figurine found in a trinket shop. He is not small. He is Big King Jesus. He is the strongest of all strong men. (Matt 12.29)

I need to remember that.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

1 John 2.15-17

Do not love the world, or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life - comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires will pass away but the one who does the will of God will live forever.

The world superimposes its desires on us. We are bombarded from every angle. Told what we need to be and who we need to be to be loveable, valuable, meaningful.

To love the world is to succumb to its value system. To buy into the lie that pursuing its agenda will bring happiness. What parts of that lie do I believe? Where am I wooed and won over by the voices of culture? What things of the world do I crave? Success. Approval. Skinniness. An impressive CV. Status. Or simply the need for other people's opinions towards me to be favorable. The need to be told repeatedly that I am doing OK. The need to have some magical box ticked that tells me I pass some mysterious test that I don't understand and don't want to sit.

But there is an alternative: Tell the world where to go with its persuasions and manipulations. Screw it. Scrap it. Stick it to the man and the system. And live forever instead.

Trip Lee, New Dreams

Even the sun goes down, heroes die eventually
Great careers end in the industry
Empires implode; you may go down in history
But everything will go down eventually
Look, you can stack bread, but you can't stop death
And there will be no comforter for you in that bed

We all get laid out, the games get played out
In a maze headed to the grave, and there's no way out
You can't outlast life, it fades out fast
Death is coming for us all, everything's gonna pass
So look at it from that angle down
My dreams gotta be bigger and greater than that

Monday, 9 May 2016

1 John 2.12-14

I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

I have been puzzling over these verses for a few days. The dilemma of thinking too hard and trying to be theologically clever when perhaps the meaning is obvious.

John writes to his people to tell them what they need to know. This is a Shepherd who knows his flock. He knows what they will struggle to remember, when they need extra assurance, where they are liable to stop trusting and start doubting.

This is not complicated new revelation; this is much needed reminder: remember who you are and who you know. You are the forgiven, the strong, the tabernacles of the Holy Spirit, the overcomers. And you know him. Him. The creator king of the universe. The one who is from the beginning. The only heavenly Father from whom every father on earth gets his name. You know him. Intimately. As a friend. As a parent. As the one who enables you to overcome any and every difficulty.

And so, this morning, I am taking John's simple words seriously : remember who you know. It matters.

Monday, 2 May 2016

1 John 2.9-11

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

These are difficult verses. Sometimes it is so much easier to love those outside the kingdom than those within it. I make less allowances for Christians. I am more judgemental of Christians, more easily offended by Christians. I am not sure why this is.

But it is true.

And John says that harboring these kind of grievances, clutching at grudges, hoarding small offenses will only keep us in the dark. We will stumble: tripping over ourselves, tangled up in negative thought processes.

The word for stumble here is "skándalon", the trigger of a trap. Our hatred and bitterness, our cynicism and judgemental attitudes will cause us to fall. We are ensnared by our own wrong thinking, blinded by our biases, caught up by complaining.

And what is worse, to do so is to betray our identity. It is to belittle the cross and blur that which should make us distinct. It is by the way that we love that we are recognized as belonging to Jesus. (John 13.35) Failure to love our brothers and sisters properly doesn't just damage our own reputation; it damages his.