Friday

03 January 2014

“and now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives. Once you’re convinced that he is right and righteous, you’ll recognise that all who practice righteousness are God’s true children.” (vv. 28-29) (The Message)


Background

I have turned toThe Messagefor today's passage. The scholar, Eugene Peterson seems to have found words which can point readers of the letter to the central core of the message that John is trying to convey to those who are to receive it.

We have already, in this rather gloomy letter, read about liars and the antichrist. Here we are beginning to be told how his readers can not only protect themselves from those who are trying to draw them away from the central message of Jesus who cannot be separated from the Christ, but also can take on a lifestyle which will help them endure until the time comes for the ascended Jesus to return. "Stay with Christ" he writes: in other words endeavour not to be distracted by worldly values but live up to the pattern shown in the life of the human Jesus and obedient to the laws of love he put before the people.

The letter written to the community for which it was intended might well be a message written for today. As I write these words I have been listening to the many tributes to Nelson Mandela. One of the comments I received from a friend was "Now his long walk to freedom is over and thank you for teaching me that to fail to forgive is to imprison yourself". I say "Amen" to those words but also am aware that they would have resounded to those reading that letter from John in the face of the difficulties they were facing. So many people in the world today put "self" at the centre - may we who have committed ourselves to Christ and his commands be an example which will make a difference not just for ourselves but for our neighbours wherever they might be.


To Ponder

  • How can we best demonstrate that we "stay with Christ" as John instructs in his letter?
  • Someone commented in the light of the news as I write, "we have to learn to hate, we do not need to learn to love". How do you respond to that comment?
  • Read the hymn "How great thou art" (Singing the Faith 82). Meditate on it in the light of John's words.


Bible notes author:  The Revd Pat Billsborrow 

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