If you knew that your friends or loved ones were in danger, you would let them know, right? I think of weather alerts that attempt to educate the public of an incoming storm or potential for severe weather. Sometimes we tend to ignore those reports because they often seem exaggerated. I remember school being cancelled because there was a threat of ice followed by heavy show, and then no precipitation came. I also know for some dear friends of ours, heeding the tornado warning in our little town was the difference between life and death.
So why do we often ignore the warnings? Do we think we know better? John is attempting to warn a friend of his in the reading we have today. We easily consumed one whole book of the Bible in this one entry. However, the message should be taken seriously and can serve us way into the future.
We should keep in mind that John had seen truth and love firsthand. He had been with Jesus. We should pay attention to his words. He’s not going to blow it out of proportion or exaggerate the message. He’s been with the “source”, with Jesus. He has a perspective we can trust.
Because of John’s experience, he is now seeing the false teachers invade the young church communities. These false teachers didn’t believe that Jesus came to the world in a “real body.” I suppose they thought Jesus was a spirit or something but not a real man. John could spot these deceivers a mile away, I’m sure. Those who have not experienced Jesus in the flesh are naturally not as discerning.
It may help us to understand that false teachers were a serious problem for the church. In our own church setting, we do whatever we can to be welcoming to people who attend. Showing hospitality is in our church’s DNA. So these words from John may seen a little unloving to us today. When we realize that he was trying to prevent the false teachers from “ruining” the rest of the church as a way of protecting them, it makes a lot more sense.
There are deceivers today that try to infiltrate churches, cause division, and teach things contrary to the truth. They can look good and sound good. We, too, need to take John’s warning to heart. Not that we should be fearful or consumed with worry, but rather we should be prepared, keep our eyes open, and be ready to recognize when God’s truth is not being promoted. We can stand strong and not let any heresies receive power.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for the warning here from John. There are deceivers in our world. Help me to be vigilant and prepared to expose any deceiver who tries to challenge your truth. Give me the discernment I need. Give me the strength I need to overcome the struggles I’m facing. If there are roadblocks, help me know if they are from you guiding me in a new direction or from the evil one trying to stop you from moving in me. Thank you God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.