11 July 2018

Welcome to Wednesday’s Podcast. Our reading today is 1 John 2:21-27 but I shall focus on verse 24:

‘See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father’

REFLECTION:

A few weeks we heard from Liam talk about the Man of Lawlessness from 2 Thessalonians. Today John takes on a similar theme. He talks about the Anti-Christ or a better translation would be ‘Anti-Messiah’.

Google Anti Christ and you’ll get some interesting & weird thoughts… some have even named him: from Vladimir Putin to David Hasselfhoff, through to organisations such as the European Union.

Here’s the thing: John doesn’t mention the ‘who’ – that’s not his interest here. He’s more interested in highlighting the negative effect of these so called ‘Anti-Messiahs’ on local Christians and the local church.

Theologian Tom Wright says that the effect of these so called ‘Anti Messiahs’ was like rust to the church.

Our family was recently driving North on the M1. En route we’d passed a number of classic Volkswagens. Four classic split screen Volkswagen Camper Vans. The early, 1960s kind. Absolutely stunning.

Rust is the enemy of all old cars. The metal forms a layer of iron oxide in the presence of moisture causing oxidation. It will destroy the metal if left untreated.

As a child of the 80’s I remember my Dad removing rust with various chemicals. If that didn’t work he’d grind it with a machine or cut it out completely.

Rust spreads, weakens and can eat away at a vehicle.

We don’t really know who John is addressing. Some say it’s believers in Ephesus but it’s most likely a ‘circular letter’. Here’s what we do know: people have left the local church to join other movements. There were a number of people claiming to be the messiah and gathered different crowds. Those movements had big appeal: They demanded change and offered a way to deal with it quickly and immediately.

It left Christians genuinely confused, because underneath was a philosophy: Jesus wasn’t really the Messiah. He wasn’t really the Son of God. His word to us isn’t final.

John’s response to the church is clear: These political so called Messiahs are a flash in the pan. Here today. Gone tomorrow.

Don’t forget who you are. Remember that you have been anointed. Messiah means anointed one – as a follower and believer in Jesus you receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This picture would have made perfect sense to the recipients of his letter. In the Old Testament to anoint someone, one would pour oil over their head.

John’s message is this: don’t get distracted. Don’t doubt. God himself by His spirit lives in you; to renew us and to transform us.

To John, only Jesus can bring true restoration in terms of our lives and the world around us.

The rust was creeping undermining doubt.

St Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:16 ‘Stay away from foolish, useless talk, because that will lead people further away from God.’

In an age of social media I find it very easy to get drawn into pointless debates. I saw one recently on Facebook. As I read it I felt my pulse increase. But sometimes it’s not enough to not comment – it’s to avoid it all together – to not even read it.

The reason the John is making this point is that the recipients of his letter had listened to unhelpful people. They had engaged with unhelpful things. This had led them away from Jesus.

That’s a challenge for all of us.

Are there places where we need to exercise wisdom? Proverbs 4:23 says ‘Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life…’

PRAYER

Jesus we recognise that you are the way, the truth and the life. Lord, I pray that anything within us that isn’t helpful: thoughts, behaviours etc… we bring before you now. In Jesus’ name, Amen

READING: 1 John 2:21-27

I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 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.

As for you, see that what you have 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.

I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.