July Article

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
1 John 3:18

By a radical move, your life was saved. You are to live by the same radical move.

The radical move? Open heart.

In our day it is a somewhat common phrase: a procedure that can save one’s physical life, otherwise in jeopardy. Yet for the follower of Christ, our “open heart” is an ongoing evidence that Christ the Master Surgeon has done the miraculous within us.

John illustrates a teaching of Jesus in this section of his letter that breathes practical living. The heart-sick world is full of envy and murder. While not all commit the act, the thoughts get the deed done nicely, just short of “knocking off” our envied opponent (1 Jn. 3:11-15). This murder-by-heart attitude is warned against in our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 5:21-24. You can keep the letter of the law—“I never killed anyone”—and still be guilty of murder by harboring evil and speaking vileness. There’s no righteousness in legalism, nor any heart-evidence of salvation in hatred.

The Lord Jesus Himself exemplifies for us the right way. He taught with words (Lk. 5:31-32; Jn. 15:12-14) and then practically modelled what He taught (1 Jn. 3:16). The resultant attitude (in us) has to go beyond, “Nice job, Jesus! Thanks for dying for me, so I can live out my life without getting too involved with others!” John gives us the challenge pointedly in verse seventeen: If you’re a child of God, evidence one is your new heart being open to others’ lives. Your focus will be on practical ministering, and not on just preserving your own life.

The evidence of Christ in us: to the heart of our neighbor’s plight, through our open heart.

 

June Article

As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.  1 John 2:24

The process of siphoning old fuel out of my generator has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I know, there are tools for such procedures, but such niceties never stopped me from getting it done. Siphoning and spiritual application: here goes.

Reflecting on 1 Jn. 2:15-29 this morning, I notice the contrast of the evil one’s many spiritually destructive “siphons” with the singular call to abide.  There is no end to the enticements presented to us in this life, all for the purpose of derailing, discouraging and distracting our life in the Lord. He warned us that it would not be easy (Matt. 6:22-24). But He did provide the power, and the means of escape from every trap of the enemy (1 Cor. 10:13). What are the distractions that seem to best pull us from Him, the Vine of John 15?

Perhaps my understanding of “abide” needs a bit more tooth to it. Rather than a passive state of just basking in His presence, it can (and does) often mean my strong resistance against outside pressures. We must stay rooted in the primary things of Christ. We cannot stray from the elemental truths of life in Father, Son and Spirit. Our full armor must be on. Sometimes our abiding will take us to the limit—where all we can do is stand (Eph. 6:13). But even in that day, it is still an active opposition in the attack mounted against us.

Siphoning is useful in the world. But beware the siphoning of Satan. He will drain you dry.

May Article

The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.   1 John 2:17

God has ultimately won, though there is a battle yet today. In orderly rank, we are to Learn of Him, Love Him, and Live as an encouragement for others to trust Him.

The enemy cannot regain ownership of us. But he would ensnare us with an imitation—lust. When deceived and diverted, our testimony evaporates. There’s no heart to obey, when consumed with Vanity Fair.

In describing this snare, suppose the evil one (2:13,14) wrote a song, You Gotta Love The World!

The words “I,” “Me,” “My,” and “Mine” would fill it. Praises for money, fame, and freedom to do as the heart craves would flow. There would be lyrics on teaching children these “values,” with rhymes cheering a relentless pursuit of physical appearance and current fashion. A breakout rap mocking commitment to marriage, or any other selfless serving, would follow. The chorus would be snappy and memorable—love yourself, love the world. Larger than life notoriety will be your mark as others see your boundless life, aspiring to be just like you.

John writes in caution: don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

The good things God gives are to be embraced, and the root of loving the world—a lustful, fleshly heart—is to be daily put to death. The outworkings of unbridled lusts (2:15-16) are countered in this seventeenth verse. The enemy’s world treasures never satisfy. They are counterfeit, doomed to fade. They are lesser things, not worthy of you, a child of God. Seek the things of eternal value, here and now. Embrace your loving Lord; focus on obedience.

Resist the pop tunes of the enemy, no matter how loudly they play, day after passing day.