Monday

20 January 2020

1 John 2:29–3:6

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. (v. 2)

Psalm: Psalm 119:97-112

Background

Here we are all given a designation or title. We are "children of God" (3:2). In this we recognise our shared parent, our shared siblings too many to even start to count, and that we all have become part of this family through adoption. We aren’t automatically born into God’s family by right. Rather it’s by God grace working in us.

We usually want to excuse our behaviour at times by recognising that not all families spend every moment in joy and peace. Indeed, family disputes can be among the hardest to overcome. But the text doesn’t let us go in that direction. Rather, we are pointed to what seems like an ideal – "no one who lives in him keeps on sinning" (v. 6). We can attempt to find a bit of wriggle room in that the passage is likely confronting gnostic teachings that sought to make a difference between the physical and spiritual, and if you were spiritually right then it didn’t really matter what you physically did.

But I don’t think John Wesley allows us that wriggle room. He called us to experience a level of Christian holiness where we do not consciously sin. Expressing this in ways that make sense today is difficult, as Wesley himself found in his own day. But to lose our way in trying to neatly express ‘total love’ or ‘Christian perfection’, is to be diverted from what the passage is calling us to. This passage is very challenging. And so it should be.

 

To Ponder:

  • As part of God’s family, do we express this in the ways we relate to each other?
  • Not consciously sinning – is this possible? Is this a goal? Should this be our norm? If this was our living experience, what difference might this make on those who are not yet followers of Jesus?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Stephen Skuce

Stephen Skuce is currently Director of Global Relationships for the Methodist Church. An Irish Methodist presbyter and former mission partner in Sri Lanka, he has served with British Methodism for the last 14 years in roles at Cliff College and as Methodism’s Director of Research.

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