Thursday

02 January 2014

“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” (v. 22)


Background

I am sure that I am not the only person who has overheard or even had said to them, words such as "I accept that Jesus was a good, God fearing man living 2,000 years ago, and that he did many good things in his life, but that is all he was. He was a man and lived and died as a man".

As in the previous passages from his letter John is reacting to a dilemma the people in that early Church are living through. Presumably the imaginary conversation I have quoted would be something quite common amongst those who, seeing the believers worshipping the risen Lord found it difficult to understand and tried to undermine their belief by rational argument. John strongly disputes such an argument and again uses the word "antichrist" (v. 22) to describe those who dispute their faith in such a way. The argument he makes in this passage is an argument that many of us will face up to in our lives living as we do in the rationalist days of the twenty-first century.

I come across many people who are happy to accept the commandments of Jesus; they will claim that they love God, and love their neighbour, and not quite so sure about whether they are loving their neighbour in the same way that they love themselves. However when it comes to equating Jesus the man with the spiritual Jesus the Christ, part of the Trinitarian God we worship, they find it too difficult to cope with. It is then that we can find divisions between people even within the church - folk who in their prayers, hymns and sacred songs worship Jesus, because he is the one they can relate to as a friend, but find themselves ignoring the wider trinity which is the foundation of our faith. There is a dualism in this passage from John's letter as the Holy Spirit is not mentioned but he is very firm in reminding his readers that father and son are indivisible and that through faith we "abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life" (vv. 24-25). He is, to quote Singing the Faith 636, 'love that wilt not let us go' and who gives us a richer fuller life through faith in him.


To Ponder

  • How far is the Church in general becoming more Unitarian in its worship and faith by focusing on one part of the Trinity?
  • Do you find it easier to relate to Jesus, the man you read of in the Gospels, rather than a Triune God with whom we can interact through the Holy Spirit in our daily lives? Why might this be?


Bible notes author: 
The Revd Pat Billsborrow

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