I’m listening to 1 John 4 this morning, and it’s grieving me that so many Christians have so many bad things to say about other Christians.
This guy seems to think he’s got everything figured out, and he’s got nothing but disdain for people who don’t see it his way. This faction is convinced that other faction is going to be the death of Christianity in our time, unless everyone comes around to “our true doctrine.” One group has nothing but venom for Christians who tolerate sin; another group doesn’t seem to know anything that still counts as sin. Then there’s “Buy My Book” Guy with the big smile who just wants everyone to be happy and rich — like he is.
Some days you want to de-Friend half the people on Facebook. How do you know who to listen to? How do you decide who to ignore?
John confirms what we already suspect: We can’t believe everyone who claims to speak for God. If all these people speak for God, the Almighty is pretty seriously confused. John says there are many false prophets in the world, and we must test each one to see who comes from God.
John’s test has only two questions: (1) Does the person hold up Jesus as God in the flesh? and (2) Does he love other people?
For some people, that list is too short, but you have John’s permission to reject the teaching of anyone who fails either of those tests. A teacher who does not acknowledge that God’s Word became a human being, that person is not from God. (vv.2-3) Anyone who does not love others, that person does not know God, because God is love. (v.8)
The heart of Truth is that God became flesh and lived among us. Jesus showed us what it looks like to live God’s way, then he suffered, died, and rose from the grave so we can be transformed into that new kind of life. He commissioned us (1) to tell others the good news that God became one of us and (2) to follow his example by loving our neighbors the way he loved us.
Yes, you will want to agree on more points of doctrine if someone is going to help you start churches in San Francisco, Shiva, or Shariah, but you don’t have to put up with “Christian” teachers who don’t hold up the truth about Jesus or live out his self-sacrificing love.
Verse 5 says, “These people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them.”
You, on the other hand, belong to God. “You have already won your fight with these false teachers, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” (v.4)
And you’ve got more important things to do than waste time on their nonsense.