Monday, April 23, 2007

1 John 3:19 - 4:6

Likely addressing a number of Christian communities in the Roman province of Asia in the late first century A.D., John wrote to illuminate them about the true nature of God and Jesus and the true nature of the children of God. Some were twisting and perverting the truth about God, Jesus, and Christian life. False teachers denied that God had truly and savingly come into this world in the flesh and blood, historical person of Jesus. From this rejection they skewed even further from the truth into behaviors antithetical to holiness before God and love for others. John, beloved apostle and follower of the earthly and resurrected Jesus, aimed to expose the errors of their beliefs and behaviors.

Clearly then, from people in their midst or around them, those Christian communities were threatened by false teachings about the nature of God and Jesus and the nature of the children of God. Additionally, they ran up against their own sins – their failures to embody true holiness and love. In these ways, a swirl of external and internal falsehoods about God, Jesus, spirituality, and behavior confused and harmed them spiritually and practically. Hence, in a series of broad but profound statements, comparisons, and descriptions, John wrote to clarify and reinforce for them who God truly is, how God came into the world in Jesus to save us, and what it means for followers of Jesus to live out God’s love.

Of real encouragement then are the nearly parallel statements regarding the greatness of God in today’s passage. God is greater than our hearts. God is greater than the evil one who tries to rule and bedevil the world.

Lamentably, we will fail. In our hearts we will know we have sinned. When our hearts cannot rise because of the burden of our sinfulness, God can renew and lift our hearts through his tender yet transforming Spirit within us. God is greater than our hearts.

Likewise, the evil one will test us with teachings and behaviors antithetical to Jesus, to holiness and love. When we seem overwhelmed by trials and temptations, God can stoop and raise us to new life, to holiness and love. We need not succumb. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God stripped sin and death of their power. God is greater than the evil one.

May we ever give thanks and praise to our triune God who is greater than our hearts and greater than all that harms his good creation!

Gregory Strong

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