God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26 - 1 John: Want to Commune with God? Love Each Other

Today’s Reading: 1 John

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

John is not afraid of the "s-word", but he also does not want people to confuse it with the "l-word".

Summary in 100 Words or Less

We saw the Word of Life. If we walk in God's pure Light our sins—brought into the light—are taken away. You are in God when you obey. Warning, the world separates you from God.
Antichrists deny Jesus is Divine.
God's True Children, like Jesus, sacrifice themselves for each other. Practice real, non-condemning love.
Believe only teachers who openly confess faith in Jesus.
God's Spirit is greater than the world's.
Reflect God's Love. Walking God's Way proves we are His.
Everything points to Jesus as God—stop doubting. Boldly and freely interact with God. Guard against all imitation gospels.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

We seek to experience communion with God.

John's first letter centers around being in and with God. We tend to see his letter as a strange, esoteric foray into spirituality. Though when you read it as a whole you realize that is is more theoretical than esoteric. There are practical ways to do what John encourages these people to do. John doesn't mention them because he expects them to flesh them out. All of them center around one point—communing with God. We want to be in God's presence. We want God to acknowledge our presence. The way is not found in losing everything, emptying our minds, and giving up all urges.

Communion with God is found by loving your neighbor as yourself.

Okay, I'm mixing Jesus' Words with John's. The point is still the same—communion with God is found when we love others, not when we hate ourselves. The tests all involve love. The world separates us from God because it teaches selfish love. God is pure Light—Love. There is no darkness—hatred—with God. We cannot hate others and say we are in the light. When we love our neighbor as our self we commune with God.

God wants to remove barriers to communing with Him but we must be willing to put them up for his removal.

The reason stubborn unwillingness to acknowledge sin prevents communion with God is that we are not willing to let the barriers go. If we let them go, God will remove them. The Light will shine on us again and we will be purged of our mistakes. God wants to set your relationship with Him right. Give up the barriers by bringing them to the light.

The Antichrist is anti-Christ.

We love to make complicated, Hollywood-style dramas out of the Bible. The Antichrist or antichrists has been blown so out of proportion that most influential people are eventually called the Antichrist by their enemies. The Antichrist and antichrists are easy to spot. There is one, simple test: Do they publically confess that Jesus is God? If they do, they aren't. If they won't, they are. The important thing—and the part most people ignore—is that anyone can be antichrist. All you need to be is anti-Christ.

The person who acts right is right.

Christians have an epidemic of doubt. This doubt is not doubting whether God exists, Jesus is God, or if God will actually set all things right—though many do doubt these things. The epidemic of doubt is if we are righteous or not. It comes from the fear that since we cannot earn back our relationship with God, we can never know if that relationship is right or not. John sets that doubt and fear aside by writing that those who act righteous are righteous. Their righteousness still comes from God and we have not "earned" it. But we are righteous nonetheless! If you want to know you are righteous, do righteous things. Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Then you will know you are righteous. The opposite is true, as well. You can never be righteous when you do not love your neighbor as yourself.

God's Spirit is greater than any other spirit.

The concept of God being greater, stronger, and longer-lasting than anything people want to defeat Him will be the central driving force behind John's Revelation. There is nothing that can prevent you from being in communion with God. Nothing can separate us from God's Love. God's Spirit is too strong.

Those who commune with God have great prayer-power.

God will act when people who commune with Him—by loving their neighbor as their self—ask Him to act. This isn't magical, it's based on the fact that as we submit to God we pray for His Will. As we pray for His Will to be done our prayers are answered. Those who pray against God's Will are the ones who think God will somehow be magically forced to grant their wishes because they are God's Chosen People.

Has the Message sunk deep into your life?

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