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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

1 John 2.24-25

As for you, see that what you heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us - eternal life.

What have John's readers forgotten? What is it that has escaped by the back door, that has fallen away, that has been eroded by the lies of those who have come amongst them? John says that it is the first things. The simple things. The elementary truths (Hebrews 6.1). Our baby milk. (Hebrews 5.12)

We all too easily forget the basics, trying to munch our way through solids when actually our body is aching for the simplicity of milk. Desperate for fresh revelation, for new ways of knowing, for hearing what God has to say for today we sometimes neglect the beautiful things that he first said to us. We forget that day when he called us by name and said You are mine. (Isaiah 43.2) We fail to celebrate the wonders and the goodness of the good news.

And so, start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). Return to your first love. Remind yourself of the things you knew at first that have been neglected. You are loved. You are broken. You have been rescued. You are made for more than this. There is so much more than what the world has to offer (1 John 2.15-17). There is an eternity that awaits. Let's rejoice in that today.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

1 John 2.22-23

Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist - denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

John does not mince his words. And I squirm uncomfortably as Peter surely did. Not me. Not I. I never will. (Matthew 26.31-35) You can count on me, Jesus. You can trust me, honest. I'm not like the others. I'm unmoveable, unshakeable, unswayable.

Only I find that I'm not.

I am all too easily persuaded that Jesus isn't really the one I thought he was. That he isn't really the long waited for one. That he can't possibly be the Messiah. That this humble, foot-washing, cross-carrying, spat-sneered-scorned and bloodied criminal cannot possibly be the king of all creation, redeemer of the world. Can he? That the dead cannot rise, the sick cannot be healed, the broken cannot be fixed, the lost cannot be found.

And yet that is who he is. He is Jesus. He is the Christ. To say anything less about him is to be a liar. To be worse than a liar. (Matthew 16.23) I say less about him all the time. Sometimes I don't say anything at all. I mumble along with Peter, I don't know what you're taking about, I do not know that man. (Matthew 26.70, 72, 74)

Oh! Come on, crumbled courage! Come on, weak resolve. Do not shrink back. Say all that can be said about this altogether lovely One, about this friend and shield and shelter and strong tower. About this lion of Judah, this slaughtered lamb. For then you will HAVE the Father. You will have the Father. You will have laid hold of God. You will hold in your hands and your heart and your head, in your very soul, the One who made you. And how I long for that! How my soul aches to find itself held and holding the One I was made for.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

1 John 2:20-21

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth but because you do know it, and no lie comes from the truth.

'Know' is one of John's favourite words. It is more than simply knowing something on a surface level; it is a kind of seeing that leads to spiritual understanding. Similar perhaps to the way that we use the word 'see' - not just to physically see something but to really, truly see it, to see it and understand the significance of what it is. I see. The difference between seeing Jesus and seeing him, between coldly observing a historical figure and recognising King Jesus in all his goodness and beauty and glory. 

John tells his reader that they know the truth. He isn't writing to them because they don't know it, but because they have forgotten, because they need a reminder, because they are scared and doubting and people in their midst have shaken their faith. This truth is a person. Jesus claimed it as a title for himself, as a way of explaining who he is and what he's like. He is the truth. (John 14:6) John's readers have met the truth, but their view of him has become clouded. They have started to forget what he is really like. They have forgotten that he cannot lie. (Titus 1:2, Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 6:18) That he alone is completely pure and sinless and trustworthy. John's words urge them to remember: remember who you know and what he has given you. Remember what it means that you have been given the Holy Spirit. Remember who gave you such an anointing. 

I need such a reminder today. I need to remember the anointing that I received (2 Corinthians 2:21-22. In a world where we are so easily side-swiped, I need to remember who I know and who I belong to. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

1 John 2.19

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

These must have been painful words for John to write. The reality of being let down by people that you put your trust in. The hurtful comments, snide remarks, circulating gossip. John's context is not our context and yet... And yet I see echoes of communities I have belonged to here. The sad straying of people always hurts. Fractures, fissures, Facebook wall posts.

But there is fight in John's words too not simply sad acceptance. This is a man for whom love of each other is the highest and oldest command. It is the thread that binds believers together. We must love one another. In all our difficulty and brokenness and imperfect and the mess that comes with messy people loving messy people.

But there is a limit. There is a time that comes to let people go. There is a necessity in allowing people to leave when the grievances they cause are too great. For the sake of his community, John allows people to leave it. To protect his flock, he lets some of the sheep run away.