John speaks of the antichrist among us, that is, ones who do not represent Christ. He warns us to not trust everyone. What do you see? Do you see clearly? This is wise counsel as there are many voices of influence in the world who do not profess Jesus Christ as Lord. Those are the ones to look out for.
I think of cults and how people are sucked in to believing
the leader. Many of those situations have turned out badly for those who blindly
trusted. Instead, John counsels us to “test” the spirits to see if they are
from God. Do they profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior? If not, we should not
be drawn in by them.
God’s love is inside us. That is a beautiful gift, isn’t it? Especially when we know that love is a key message in the Bible. Love is more than a feel good emotion. It’s more than an act of compassion. John tells us “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.” Think about giving up your own life for a friend or family member. Don’t just gloss over this, but truly imagine the sacrifice.
The verse I quoted above is from 1 John 3:16. Isn’t it beautiful how John 3:16 is very similar yet speaks of God’s love for the world that he gave up his son. Those are both beautiful glimpses into the devotion, sacrifice, and even pain that comes with perfect love from above. We have that love inside us ready to share with others.
We are all children of God or are we? Does this passage conjure up any doubt in your mind? Are you feeling a bit guilty because you know you’re a sinner? These are some serious questions to wrestle with as we read through this passage and figure out what it is saying to us.
Right off the bat, John tells us to remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns we won’t cower back in shame. That stirs up some memories of being a child and breaking my mom’s hall mirror. My brother and I had been told NOT to climb in the closet. We didn’t listen. As a result, the mirror, which was affixed to the closet door, was smashed into a million pieces when the closet door somehow slammed into the wall as we were climbing in the closet. Talk about cowering in shame. That’s when you wish you were invisible.
When we see the prefix, “anti” we know it means the opposite or against. For instance, antifreeze is something we use to keep our cars from freezing up in the cold. So what about the antichrist? Is it the opposite of Christ or against Christ? John says, “anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist.” The Greek, antichristos, means literally “adversary of the Messiah.”
We are also told that many antichrists have appeared already. Can you imagine how many more have since John wrote these words? You may have encountered an antichrist who tried to cloud your judgment or belief about Jesus, put a doubt in your head, or tried to lure your trust away from Jesus.
Have you seen the little jokes or quizzes going around asking if you had to take only one thing with you to the moon, to a deserted island, or some other obscure location what would it be? Sometimes they’ll even give you a list to choose from like chocolate, a book, your pet, wine, a blanket, etc. In other words, what do you love most? While those exercises may seem silly, they get us to thinking about something beyond our current reality.
Today’s reading would caution us from loving things of this world. What does that even mean? Didn’t God create everything that is? Perhaps it’s in the language, the word “of” as opposed to “in”. Everything “in” the world is God’s creation and belongs to him. But those things “of” the world are available because the world has created them.