1 John 4:1-6

“4​ 1 My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.
2 Here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God. 3 And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming. Well, here it is, sooner than we thought!
4 My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. 5 These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up.   But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception.” The Message

Christ is a divisive figure and was from day one. He and his followers have been persecuted and still are. Why? He’s not like all other historical figures who we can see were good or bad and most of the world agrees.

Everything that Christ did was incredible – perfect in healing, love, patience, forgiveness. Why do people hate him and his message? Because He was, and it is, anti. It’s anti-establishment, anti-world, anti-our-nature (I made up that concatenation if you couldn’t tell). He calls on us to be changed and we resist like spoiled little brats until we don’t. His is NOT a message we want to hear, we’d rather be coddled by the lies of the world.

Why? Why do we resist loving one another so we can be self serving? Why do we carry resentments so we don’t have to forgive? Why do we lose our “stuff” so we don’t have to be patient?

I find it interesting that the world says Christ is the problem.

One thought on “1 John 4:1-6

  1. Good Morning, John and Kathy,
    Thank you both for your friendship and encoragement – for sharing God’s word in the mornings, I love the images and easy format, this has really blessed my days and I wanted to say thank you.
    I’m sharing some Christmas thoughts God’s put on my heart this week, hope your Christmas is warm and filled with laughter and family…but that it also holds those still, quiet moments to absorb God’s sweet presence, His Divine Kindness, His Excellent Company!!!
    Love, Lisa Fitzgerald

    Treasure in a Trough

    I have never thought much of the “Oh, behold the cute little baby” thing in the Christmas songs I had to memorize and sing along with my classmates in elementary school ( I TOTALLY faked my way through every performance, mouthing the words to the songs because in my painful shyness, I could not even project my voice in confidence). I understood God, and His Mighty Power…and even then I knew He was also capable of great Kindness. I knew He must be an enormous soul – as the Christmas song goes, “With a Voice as big as the SEA!” – and that for Someone that BIG to show Kindness to someone as small, shy and inconsequential (or so I THOUGHT…now I know better!) as I was, this Big God would have to manage to stoop very low.

    I got the God thing…I just didn’t understand the Cute Little Baby Thing until I got a little older.

    This Christmas season, I am mesmerized by the Christmas carol sung by Martina McBride, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” There are characters in the song (the Night Wind, the Little Lamb, the Shepherd Boy, the Mighty King) who GET the Cute Little Baby Thing for what is really is – God as a living baby, the only way He could enter this corrupted world full of selfish humans, live among us, leave some words and history for us to follow like spiritual breadcrumbs (Jesus’ words are written in RED in the New Testament – I always, always loved that feature as a child, understanding even then that the red words were Very Important!)…then roll up all our corporate evil, drape it across the shoulders of His human, sinless body and take it to the Cross to…pardon the worldly comparison…to pay our check. All of it. Because, in Him, through Him, we are washed clean when we are forgiven – white as snow – clean and fresh as that Cute Little Baby. Lying in a manger.

    I didn’t know what a manger was when I was in elementary school – I was not a farm kid and didn’t understand the basic workings of a barn or of keeping large, warm-breathing animals; most of the animals I thought about lived in the warm tropical waters of Oahu – colorful fish with huge, Crayola fins that flared out like giant feathers in the water – scary, rubbery sharks that bent slightly as their light grey, slightly battle-scarred bodies shot through the waters we did NOT swim in, knowing they were there – the neon-pink flamingos that greeted me on field trips to the zoo, always the first animals we saw near the entrance gates. Mammals? Not so much on my mind. I always gravitated to colorful animals – mammals were kind of blah.

    I now know a manger is something you put food in for big, clumsy animals to eat, animals you are taking care of, who need this food because they depend on it, they cannot go get their own (as a fish, or a shark, or even a flamingo can). Farmers place food in a manger for these dependent animals…and, as if to reinforce their dependency, the sides of the manger are steep, so the food does not roll out to be spilled on the ground while the animals are mindlessly gobbling what is given to them.

    Why put a baby – a newborn? – in a dirty, slobber-coated receptacle? Well, on a practical level, we know Mary and Joseph couldn’t find a motel, and the barn was all they could get in a pinch (as in the ultimate pinch of labor pains…poor girl!). The manger had sides on it and kept the baby safe once he started wiggling around, and though, let’s face it, we don’t know whether it was really all that cold in that part of the world on the original Christmas, you can bet Mary had that little guy wrapped up good in a clean blanket because – EEYEW – he was laying in a MANGER. A manger. I’m going to take it for granted that even though this was the Big Entrance of the Son of the Most High God, the angels didn’t take time out from their worship to hose down the manger and scrub it with Lysol before Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid him in that makeshift crib so she could get some (pardon the pun) blessed sleep.

    This Christmas I am thinking about the manger. Covered with enough animal slime through the years to equal the nastiness of several hundred rubber dog toys – you know, the ones our dogs bring us because they are of course their favorites…we see them hanging from their jaws as they run to us joyfully, we see those swaying strings of slobber, coming at us across the kitchen floor – we love our dogs, but do we really want to touch that toy again? Then wash our hands – for the fifth time – before we finish preparing that meal for our family?

    That manger is God’s mercy – and also, because God is the Funniest, Cleverist Person I know – God’s little joke. He placed the most valuable treasure we have ever known – or ever WILL know – in a food bowl covered with decades of drooling, animal slobber, because He didn’t want us to miss the ultimate contrast: a perfect, sinless, loving God – appearing in all the perfection of a new baby, but only the beginning of his 33-year mission to rescue us selfish animals from our sinful natures….placed in a manger to highlight our oh-so-human tendency to just turn to the next thing.

    We turn to the next thing: the next meal, the next relationship, the next craving….whatever the world pours into our food bowl that day. That is our nature.

    God put a treasure – the Hope Diamond of all treasures – in our food bowl. This is why we struggle against salvation initially: it seems too good to be a free gift, it doesn’t even make sense at first – and it is so valuable, there is no accepting that treasure without coming to an understanding that everything will become new and we will never be satisfied with that same old food the world gives again. We will change because, through Jesus – so much more than a Cute Little Baby – God Himself will change us. He will teach us all we need to know.

    Thank God.

    Because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to go back to the same old “slop” the world offers. There’s better food…better everything. There’s God Himself, His Son, His Spirit.

    Merry Christmas. When you hug your dogs today, and fill their bowls with the same old dog food, think of God’s clever joke…and know how precious you are to be His kid, to have every day open to you as a shining new gift because He makes everything new, every day!


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