Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Cold Pricklies and Warm Fuzzies"

1st John 2.24, 27d “The Message”

“Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink into your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father.”

“Live deeply in what you were taught.

I’m having some personal difficulty with 1st John. The book seems too ‘black and white.’ John speaks of light and darkness, truth-tellers and liars, Christ and the anti-Christ. You either love your brother or you hate him. 

“The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1st John 2.10-11 NASU
When it comes to human relationships, is there not something in between love and hate? To my knowledge, I don’t hate anyone, but there are some people I don’t like very much. I have no opportunity to display love toward them because they avoid me in the same way I do them. Does this constitute hatred toward my “brother” and walking “in the darkness”? I hope not. Some people don’t mix well with me. We are like oil and water.

I wish I got along with everyone and, for the most part, I do. I have great relationships with family, clients, and neighbors. But there are those few who, like ‘flies in the ointment,’ ruin my otherwise flawless compatibility record. These detractors prove I am not the “World’s Most Congenial Guy”.

Oddly many of them, like me, are professing believers and active church goers. I don’t get it. When I am around these people I receive no ‘warm fuzzies,’ only ‘cold pricklies.’ Why won’t Jesus wipe away all differences and help us achieve the unity He promised and commanded? Am I doing something wrong? Are they the bad guys? Or, is there an explanation that, for the moment, eludes me?

Only one thing consistently gives me the warm fuzzy feeling… “the original message” of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I “let it sink into my life” I feel better, more confident of His calling and love. When I press into Jesus and the truths of the Bible, I experience the personal benefits of living “deeply in both the Son and the Father.” To “live deeply in what I was taught” when I first met the Lord nearly 47 years ago brings an inner joy and peace that cannot be shaken. Living deeply for Christ is the only response that makes sense of the cold prickly people I know.

I will try to love them, but when I fail, and fail I will, Jesus will have to sort it out for me later.

Hugging cactus from webcomic "A Simple Apology" by Mark Gleim.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I have a few prickles in my life as well. Nothing wrong with chocolate cake or grapefruit juice, they just don't go well together. (analogy courtesy of Bill Cosby)

I also struggle with some of this all or nothing terminology. Still, I found many points in this chapter to be both encouraging and challenging.

1) "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." ouch, try doing that without faltering for 24 hrs. This is the struggle that I believe many of us have as believers. We have a savior and role model who was perfect in every way; without sin in fact. Can anyone, believer or not, say with a straight face that they spend most of their waking hours walking as Jesus did? I know there have been many days when I feel I did great, only to have my wife at the end of the day tell me I've been detached and distant, or even irritable. That's when I become deflated and at times discouraged. How can anyone truly be expected to walk as Jesus did? Sometimes I have to remind myself that my goal is not perfection. The last sentence in this chapter simply reminds us to "remain in him." That, I believe is the real challenge, and if we do that, we will come as close as possible to walking like Jesus did.

2) "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble."

-----1 John, ch 2, vs 9-10

Dave, I struggle with the exact same thing you do here. Why is it that I can not get along perfectly with all believers? Some people, it seems are just grapefruit juice to me and there seems to be nothing I can do about it. Do I have any real enemies? The only one I could possible think of is a particular local body shop owner who will remain nameless. And while we're on the topic, as a non-believer, is he really my brother?

3) "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him."

1 James, ch 2, vs 15

OK, I admit it. I love college football and Major League Baseball. These are the only 2 reasons I have cable television. If not for my admitted secular obsessions, I could dump the TV in the garbage can. Does this make me worldly? My hope is that as long as I put Christ first, I will be allowed a few minor worldly habits.

4) "They went out from us but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."

1 John, ch 2, vs 19

OK, so I'm struggling a little with this one to. After all, my story is the classic story of the prodigal son. I also went out from them, but later came back. Perhaps I am simply too literal.

5) "Who is the lair? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the anti-Christ--he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also."

1 John, ch 2, vs 22--23

Ouch again. Sometimes the truth hurts. No wonder some of our earliest Christian brothers were stoned to death. This is where I am most tempted to play it loose with scripture. This is where I would really rather be a salad bar Christian. This is where our faith is so diametrically opposed to the culture in which we live. There are many who want to turn Jesus into a hippie who knew some really cool magic tricks. But John simply will refer to such people as liars. Jesus himself warned us that his coming would not bring peace on the earth, but rather, division.

"From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

------Luke, ch 12, vs 52-53

For some reason, I don't think Jesus had a bumper sticker on the back of his Volvo that said: "Honor Diversity."

Anyway, random thoughts on an otherwise slow day at the insurance company office. Only business I get of late is from those folks on the coast who are stuck in the gale winds and getting their awnings torn off their motorhomes. Another day, another buck and a half.

Dave, have a great Wednesday. Will you be posting on turkey day?


Dave's Bible Blog said...

Hi Cedar Mill,

Yes. I will post on Thanksgiving. I appreciate your process. Like mine, it has its ups and downs. If that were not so, we would not be human. Our dilemmas are common to almost everyone who wants to serve Christ in a fallen world and with a fallen nature of our own.

Thank you for your transparency.