Scripture: 1 John 2:18-29
Key verse: (24) Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father.
Reflection: True confession: When I read the various passages that are assigned readings for today, I didn’t like any of them. They are hard to understand and hard to accept. After earning a master’s degree and a doctoral degree, and serving many years in ministry, I still have a hard time understanding some biblical passages and a hard time accepting others.
I chose to focus today’s devotion on this passage from the first letter of John. In this letter the writer encourages the Christian community to be faithful to the core truth of the gospel. Apparently there were divisions in the early church. Factions were forming and breaking off from the community. We don’t have clear knowledge about the controversies but scholars believe the disagreement was about whether Jesus was fully human and fully God, or just human or just God. The letter writer labels some of his opponents “antichrists.” That’s harsh! The term antichrist is used only in the letters of John. Notice that it is plural here and the writer assumed the antichrists were already at work. The antichrist wasn’t a solitary figure in the future we should be watching for!
The writer calls the community to abide in the gospel. Abide in the mystery that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human. Abide in the hope that the death and resurrection of Christ offers to us. Abide in the truth that Jesus is the incarnation and reveals God to us.
When pastors and officers are ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), we make a vow to further the peace, unity and purity of the church. Those three values (peace, unity and purity) are held in dynamic tension. If one becomes emphasized over the others, the church is led astray. A focus on purity without care for peace or unity becomes arrogant and self-righteous. A focus on peace without care for purity becomes a broad tolerance for evil behavior. A focus on unity without care for peace forces people to abandon integrity. Peace, unity and purity. For the early church this tension was real. For us, this tension is real. To be faithful to the way of Jesus, we live in this tension together.
Prayer: Dear Lord, give me courage to grapple with what I don’t understand. Give me strength to abide in you and your love. Give me wisdom to hold peace, unity and purity together as I live in my community. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].