Read or listen to 1 John 2:28-3:10
It seems that one awh shucks just might wipe out a thousand attaboys. Maybe we should just skip over this chapter?
Everything was sounding good up to this point. We are children of God. We walk in the light. If we sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us. Then we get this bit about children of God don’t sin.
Which is it?
If we who follow Christ sin, God will forgive us?
But children of God don’t sin?
Which is it?
It is not like these statements come from two different authors. John wrote them. It is as if John was thinking, let’s stir the pot a little and throw in some cognitive dissonance. Let’s see what people do with two apparently contradictory beliefs.
We as God’s people are challenged to hold both statements to be true. These are divinely inspired words.
If we sin, God is faithful and just and will forgive us.
As children of God, we cannot sin.
Those who sin are of the world, of the devil, of evil, of lawlessness.
We need to consider all of these statements and be able to say yes, that’s correct.
So what do we do?
We say yes! We believe all of these divinely inspired words.
Paul gave us similar thought when he said what we don’t do out of faith is sin.
Jesus told us that by their fruit you would know them.
We as finite people are still looking at a list of sins and saying oops.
But God has called us his children and if we are his children we will live good lives because He lives in us.
Those who live in lawlessness are not without law, but reject law and the authority behind it.
And John’s message becomes clearer when we receive it in those terms.
It’s for or against.
It’s in or out.
It’s children of Love or of lawlessness.
We see this family dynamic played out before our own eyes on football fields and playgrounds. On the playground, the kid that can’t hold on to the ball gets picked last or not at all. He is ostracized by other kids when he makes a mistake. But a kid on a team—a family—who makes a mistake is brought immediately back into the fold. He is encouraged by his team mates. They won’t let him get away so he can be angry at himself and anyone he comes across. They bring him back—right away—by grabbing his facemask and making him listen if necessary. He is part of the team and doesn’t even have the privilege to kick himself off.
Sports examples are always imperfect. Some kids do get the boot for doing things that break team rules, but you can still witness the dynamic of this makeshift family.
We are children of God. We may have sins, but we have turned away from a life of sin.
We may fall short or take a wrong turn, but our hope is always in the Lord.
We may occasionally kick the cat, but we know to come home and confess.
We have rejected the world and its ways, chief among them is to live for yourself alone.
The world has rejected God.
We live in one of these two groups.
There really is no fence to sit on.
And we, whom Christ has chosen and whom have called him Lord, have rejected the world.
And still we ask, “Why do I fall short?”
“Why do I still sin?”
“Why can’t I live a mistake free life?”
Because Christ has yet to appear in his glory.
We are made for more than we are now. We have not reached our destination.
John would say, “it is not yet clear what we will become.” But he continues that when Christ does appear we shall be like him.
God’s nature is dwelling in us.
We have God’s seed, his Spirit, Jesus to urge us to a pure life. Different translations may lean more to one than another, but God works within us to perfect us.
And He will finish what he started!
But we are not there yet.
Yet, we are children of God, and we have rejected a life of sin, selfishness, self-centeredness, ungodliness. God does live in us.
But there are some who have chosen lawlessness. They reject God and Christ. They reject authority. And we will know who they are by their sin, by their fruit, by the evidence of their lives.
We as a church, a congregation—as the body of believers that we call this small part of the universal church—have embarked upon a campaign to deliver good news in 2012.
We will do the things we need to do to reach the children in our community this year. We will likely make some good news deliveries to some parents along the way.
We will deliver the good news. But how will it be received?
Much of the reception will depend upon the evidence of our lives.
If you were accused of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?
If you were arraigned for blessing others, would there be enough evidence to hold you over for trial?
If you were charged with loving you neighbor would there be enough evidence to render a verdict of guilty?
I believe most of you can answer yes to at least one, probably all three.
That means when you deliver the good news to the people of this community, they will know you by your Christian walk, by the love you have for others, and by your generosity. They will know that you do not belong to this world.
Take comfort and assurance that you belong to God.
Translators put an exclamation point at the end of the first verse of this chapter.
See how much the Father has loved us! He has called us his children. And that’s just who we are!
We must remember this and not be discouraged as we speak the good news.
For some will:
- Reject us
- Ridicule us
- Hate us
- Ignore us
- Avoid us
- Hide from us
But we are the children of God and we are taking God’s message to the children in our community.
- Hear us
- Cling to us
- Remember us
- Follow us to the One whom we follow
- Love us
- Embrace us
- And someday, maybe in our lifetime, they will rejoice with us knowing what it feels like to be children of God.
When Christ is at work in us, we don’t sin.
And the world sees that.
The world is looking for that one awh shucks. Yes, the world has a BOLO out on us. Evil yearn for us to faulter.
Much of the world will become defensive, sometimes even offensive to us.
But some will see our light—that divine reflection of God, they will hear the good news, and come to live as children of God.
The words that we take into the world must be come and live.
We often think too much about what we do. What we do is important. The example we set is important. The commission we fulfill is important.
But we are not what we do.
We should take a craftsman’s pride in our work. Whatever we do, we do it for the Lord and therefore it should be our best effort. Be we are not what we do.
We are not human doings. We are human beings.
And when we look at who we are, we are children of God.
And the heart of God’s children is to please him.
And the message of God’s children to the world is come and live.
Come and live.
Come and live as God’s own children.
We have yet to bring our bodies, mind, thought, and attitudes into full submission, but we are God’s children.
And God’s children do not sin.
Leave what belongs to this world in this world and come and live as God’ children.
Read this selection in The Message.