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’
Today I want to talk about rusty cars.
Rust is the enemy of all old cars. Apparently, metal forms a layer of iron oxide and in the presence of moisture causes oxidisation.
This would explain my 80’s childhood. My Dad spending hours and hours trying to remove rust from a succession of cars. First he would try various chemicals to sort it. If that didn’t work he’d grind it with a machine or cut it out completely.
Rust can spread and can weaken and can eat away at a car. It will destroy the metal if left untreated. It can cause devastating consequences.
Well, in today’s passage John is talking about an equally corrosive problem in the church.
He tackles head on the Anti-Christ or in John’s original words the ‘Anti-Messiah’.
Well, the question then is who or what is that Antichrist?
If you Google ‘Anti Christ’ you’ll get some weird and wonderful suggestions – ranging from Vladimir Putin to even David Hasselhoff – how the Hoff ended up on the list I don’t know – some even say the European Union is the Anti Christ.
Here’s the thing: John doesn’t tell us 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 church.
The Theologian Tom Wright says that the effect of these so called ‘Anti Messiahs’ was like rust to the church.
We don’t really know who John is addressing. Some say it’s believers in Ephesus but it’s most likely a very unhelpful ‘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 who gathered different people to them. They had big appeal: their impressive rhetoric demanded change of the status quo and offered a way to deal with it quickly and immediately.
But it left Christians genuinely confused because underneath their clever, impressive rhetoric was a philosophy – a rust – which left Christians undermined because they began to doubt that 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 & concise: These political so called Messiahs are a flash in the pan. Here today. Gone tomorrow.
He encourages the church – and we too can take encouragement from this: Remember that you have been anointed. Messiah means anointed one – and as a follower and believer in Jesus we receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This picture would have made perfect sense to the recipients of this letter.
John’s message is this: God himself by His Spirit lives in you; to renew us and to transform us. He can do great things through our lives.
You see, the rust was a 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 this current season of anxiety: the US elections; racial tensions – we are susceptible to great fear. The ‘anti messiahs’ exploited the moment; stoked fear and undermined faith. Root out any spiritual rust in our hearts. We should definitely be aware of what we’re absorbing in this season. Like passive smokers – it will affect us – but make sure that God’s words through John are encouraging this day.
We are anointed. God is with us. He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world.
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
BIBLE READING: 1 John 2:22-27 (NIV)
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.