Bible Reading by Gerard Kelly – Be – 1 John 2:7-3:3
- John’s foundation is that Jesus is both God and man:
- Light, life and love are three themes that will be weaved
- Sin & brokenness, and the Jesus way of confronting these
- Followers will imitate the life of Jesus
Some of the things that were worrying John, the church community he was part of and the pressures they were under.
1 John 2:7-11
The connection of God’s love for us and our love for one another cross with the theme of light Where love is light has shone, and where light shines we learn to love one another. If love is not visible then we have to assume that the light has not come in this area. He is not say 100% that people are in light or darkness – but makes an assumption based on the actions. If I see you hating one another I have to assume that love is not there. Not writing a new commandment but telling you what you always knew – not linked to Jesus – but what had always been the case – love The Lord your God and your neighbour – what Jesus emphasised – but what the Jewish people always emphasised. Jesus lived it in a way that had never happened before – this is what made it real. It is what always John had known to do – but Jesus showed him how to do it in a real way. Not just moving house regularly to change your neighbour! Not by trying harder but by encountering the love of God. A new exploration of a very old commandment,
This is his version of the New Age movement. Many are taught it was invented in the 20th century nut cases. Jesus taught loads about the new age – this age and the age to come. Not quite what people mean today but the concept of new age is very biblical. Darkness is disappearing, and the light is already shining. That is to do with John’s worldview, the New Testament world view – John doesn’t have time for the Greek heresy of the life you live now and the life you will live later in some floaty place. Jesus spoke about a dark age and an age to come that will be filled with light – this doesn’t happen when you die, but when you receive Christ So John says don’t sit around waiting for it but realise that it has already begun.
John has the same view of eternal life – not something you’re waiting to inherit, or that you’re waiting to begin. The qualification is that you confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that you surrender your brokenness to God and let him deal with it. From that point God is already in you pushing back the darkness, declaring the new age.
John’s conviction is that the darkness will be ultimately victorious. Light brings love and love renders faith concrete. If you don’t love then the light of God isn’t in you – regardless of what you sing and say in church. Where we don’t love is a big neon sign from God as to what we need to deal with. Maybe when you meet someone who has a different view point of church, a different skin colour, a different lifestyle – John says that you’re not terrible – it is pretty human – but ask for God’s light to shine more there. Love is the evidence of the light of God in your life.
1 John 2:12-14
Writing to people he knows, churches who he is in touch with. He does it twice to make sure they can see his deliberate action of those who are the children of God – those who have just got their and those mature in your faith. Being part of the family of God is diverse. People at Spring Harvest are saying how great it is at an older age to be learning new things. If you are genuinely open to the Spirit of God and the Word of God you will go on learning – this is the picture that John wants us to have.
This isn’t the only reason he writes this. He takes time to address the challenge of Gnosticism – which was a tendency that was beginning in some of the churches. He understands it well, and writing later he is more aware of it. Cavlism was the sense of dressing up the Old Testament in esoteric thoughts. The Gnostics were very influenced by Greek thought, and specifically Plato.
The body, and everything in it is bad – the Hylic. The material world is created by lesser Gods as it is in some sense flawed and broken. The word deal comes from Platonic thinking – everything we see is a poor reflection of the ideal in the theoretical world – e.g. the chair is a poor imitation. Everything is about escaping the body and living for spiritual realities. It is the oldest heresy in the church and yet we still struggle with it now.
The Hebrew view is that the cosmos, the human world is the top level as God made it. Put simply God was bored of the fluffy clouds and having coffee with the angels. God expressed himself in creation – it is a positive expression of God. The focus is the redemption of the cosmos – the resurrection of the bodies – not being whisked away from the earth.
John sees the Gnostics as a key challenge to the faith – he sees that God comes to us in flesh but the Gnostics say the flesh world is negative so they believe that God has done something stupid, he has parted with his dignity in doing this.
John 3:16 – God so loved not just me and you but the cosmos, the world that he sent his one and only son for the giraffe, dolphin and more!
Another feature is that Gnosticism divided humans into three areas:
- Hylic (stuck in the body) – human demands – food and more food!
- Psychic (aware of the soul) – emotional and inner psychological soul – the sign is that you start writing poetry
- Pneumatic (living in the Spirit) – they live for the Spirit
Unfortunately some Christians live for the Spirit but deny their own human actions, e.g. I don’t need to eat any more as Jesus will look after you and the Holy Spirit will pay the rent. The Holy Spirit comes to bring life to your eating, sex life, community and more. Don’t let the similarity of language fool you – they are not bringing you into the Kingdom but something entirely else.
The Gnostics always a steps of spiritual ascent – it varies but in John’s day to was seven linked to the seven spiritual beings. At each stage you get the next level of enlightenment. To get to the next stage you receive more secrets – very similar to Free Masonry and Scientology. You move up through the ranks and eventually get to be Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise literally has nothing negative in his life according to Scientology! Just tell that to his wife and ex-wife! John says “rubbish” – as far as the love of Christ is concerned – the person who became a Christian a minute ago and the person who has been in the faith for 50 years have access to the same knowledge. Where John sees Christians beginning talk about having secret knowledge he tells them to repent.
Spring Harvest is the evangelical business class – frequent flyers still don’t get a better chalet though!
The Word of God speaks to everyone and some need to come to terms with the insight that God gives to new Christians as well of them. We don’t divide into different classes or blessings. The things we don’t understand we probably need to get rid of, e.g. why we can’t open the curtains without Vera being there!
All esoteric faiths have a ladder from earth to haven – climbing up with God – but when you find the top of a ladder you will still find thin air – there is no system of increasing enlightenment. The Gospel says you meet God where you are – in your community. The Jewish story meets Moses where he is – the ground is Holy take off your shoes. God establishes things where we are – he wants us to understand his purposes where we are – in our relationships, in the places where we live as that is where God’s story placed us.
Let your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth – the battle is to get God here – there is no victory to get God worshipped on the earth as they do that already! There is a ladder in the Christian faith – but it is the ladder God climbed down to get to us – if you’re going to use an up and down concept. Let’s see how much heaven we could see in our neighbourhood, faith, relationships, church and more.
One rule for all – you are all children of God. If you are a newbie in the faith or a father in the faith then you receive the same challenge.
1 John 2:15-17
Just in case we are no clear he carries on. If you receive these words as a Gnostic he says don’t take on the world views. John isn’t talking about that – there is a kingdom where we are dark in our thinking – part of us is that and part of the world is that. The Kingdom of God is arriving so the questions is do you let your identity to be shaped by the light or darkness. The world in this language isn’t the physical world, our community and culture. It is a challenge to the empire of the world, e.g. media, advertising.
Belief + Doubt = Sanity
John in his culture with no society of consumerism. He still understood even then that there is something that calls to us to be comfortable and often against the word of God saying love your neighbour. The question of whether or not you’ve got the right stuff comes from whether or not you have identity in possessions – do they hold your heart or not?
Just look at the Tiger Woods campaign “Winning takes care of everything” which stimulates the idea to win we should buy more Nike kit. They are going beyond marketing, and become philosophers and theologians. Did winning take care of everything for Lance Armstrong? His need to win and to keep winning drove him into disastrous actions and wrecked the life of him, his family and hundreds of others.
We need to be willing to speak the truth. Maybe the new car, the bigger house, the extra holiday won’t change anything – sometimes it can but often not. Not living in our barns, one of the few places in scripture that Jesus allows someone to be called a fool. Tonight it is over – Jesus said he was thinking about the wrong things.
Will you be what God says you are, be who he calls you to be, secure in Christ regardless of richness, poverty and possessions. Hear God speaking your identity – not the stuff around you.
Loop back to the fundamental thing, the tiny anchor – the life of Jesus – let that be the anchor that everything else relates to. More people in the UK have lost their faith from being comfortable rather than persecution. The things we fear are often the things that will free us.
1 John 2:18-25
Introduces the concept of anti-Christ, it is anything that is n work of the world that goes against Christ in your life. It doesn’t matter what they are – they could be good, bad or anything else, but they are the anti-Christ. The clue is to stay faithful.
1 John 2:26-3:3
The clue is how to listen to God and not the billboards is to remain faithful that God has given us the Holy Spirit to be our teacher – nurture that relationship. Not moving through stages, but teach us from within. And we can be secure as God has brought us to the father. Jesus brought us to the place where we are secure as the children of God. That is our identity and future – to be taught by the Spirit to be taught all that Jesus wants us to come.