16 January 20201 John 2:12-17
And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever. (v. 17)
Psalm: Psalm 119:49-64
John’s letter is a call for the people of God to focus their lives on Jesus and on the saving love of Christ through the cross and Resurrection of Jesus. In this way, lives are completely transformed as the encounter with Jesus’ sacrifice leads God’s people into a new kingdom. In this new kingdom. God’s way and will is the rule and his people desire to live in accordance with it.
Jesus’ ministry on earth was that of proclaiming that "the kingdom of God is near" and to "repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
The people to whom John was writing had their focus turned from Jesus to complicated ‘problems’ that so-called teachers of faith were putting in front of them. The reality is that Jesus’ cross would forever be the place of transformation as people entered into the kingdom of God where living within his will would be the single issue.
It is easy to layer up the ‘problems’ with Christianity to the exclusion of the vast and amazing gift of God in Jesus Christ. We make policies and plans that are sweet and well-meant, often worthwhile in principle, but where they are the motivation in themselves, they miss the point of the gospel. It is from within Jesus’ person – within the now-open kingdom of Heaven – that we live out our faith through care and concern and giving and political agitation and coffee mornings and room lettings for the community. John points out that we understand the will of God through truly belonging to him. John points out that our focus firstly on the world will result in a love for the world that trumps our love for God. In many ways, this small passage takes us back to the words of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
The people to whom John is writing are not a small sample of the Church, but they include children – likely those who are young in faith when we look at the opening words John’s letter. They include the old and wise and everyone in between, as we see in verses 12-14. John is stating that their faith makes them different. The faith we have in God through Christ makes a difference. We begin with our focus on Jesus and then begin to look at the things of the world through the lens of salvation. The safest place for all people is in Christ. Our evangelistic task is to bring them there, and to not be sidetracked by good-looking things that would shift our focus from "The One through whom all things are made" (John 1:3) to the things.
- Make a list of 3 things that are most important to you.
- What do they look like from ‘inside Christ'?
- What is the message you proclaim in your everyday? It is maybe one of love, or of hope or of care or of peace or of gratitude. How might that message also carry the presence of the kingdom of God brought near in Jesus?