Saturday, December 3, 2016

DECEMBER 3 "DID JOHN JUST TELL US WE ARE OF THE DEVIL?"

I’m sure glad John wrote this “the brother of love” and not me, because I would be accused of being the “brother of hate”. John is vehemently attacking “hypocrisy” in his writing. To think…..I thought this was just a problem in the bible belt of America or in the deep south; people claiming “to know Jesus, Praise Jesus, Hallelujah!!” But yet live like The Devil. We preach “Christianity is a relationship with Jesus, not a religion”, but the problem is as we venture out across America, we find that in many states and cities across America, Christianity is just another religion to most people. Growing up on the east coast, as a Roman Catholic, we were faithful church attendees on Sundays, but lived pretty sinful lives through out the rest of the week. Everyone in my family was immoral, everyone in my family drank & cussed, but yet on Sundays there we were in church trying to act (at least the adults) as pious as we could. That’s why as a teenager, I left the church and religion all together.  When I was 21 years old I was finally coaxed into stepping back into a church, this was not easy for anyone to do, it took much persistence to get me back into a church after what I grew up in, I hated it. This was a Christian Pentecostal Church, I had never been in one of those before. What impressed me was people actually living out their Christian faith, not just at church, but especially at home.  I came to believe from that point on that if you claimed to be Catholic, you were just a religious hypocrite, but if you claimed to be Christian, you were a genuine believer. Being in the military, I was often deployed and had an opportunity to do much travel, domestically and overseas. It didn’t’ take long for my naïve hypothesis to be quickly chattered into a million pieces. In the mid-west (the Bible Belt), the South (God’s Country) and South Africa (Born Again Capital of the world), where Christians, Baptists and Pentecostals were the predominant churches you would think all would be well and good. However, that was not they case, I began to meet professing Christians that cussed, drank and were often pregnant out of wedlock, this began to seem all too familiar, but how could this be? I thought it was just the Religious Catholics that lived like that? I thought I was told “Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with God”; the euphoric bubble was being burst.  My whole idea of what I thought I had left behind and what I had entered in to was shattered. I left religion when I was young, wanted nothing to do with it, couldn’t stand religion and the hypocrisy behind it, I loathed it and was so thrilled when I came to know and experience Christianity, now that was being question too, was there no hope?  What saved me was the Book of 1 John. When I read what we read today, it saved me from leaving the Christian Church and Faith altogether. I read the words of John, boldly proclaiming, “THIS IS NOT RIGHT!” You cannot claim to know Christ and live the way you are living. I learned that there are hypocrites everywhere. They are in the Catholic Churches, Baptist, Pentecostal, non-denomination, they are everywhere and we cannot simply run from Faith and Christ because of them. Do we sin, do I sin, of course! However what John is speaking about is blatant sin!  I knew after reading 1 John that I didn’t have to leave the Church and become an Atheist or Agnostic. From that point on I knew what I thought was true, confirmed by John. The revelation was that all I can do is make sure I knew and I lived by what the Word of God taught me and not to allow those that wanted to live hypocritical lives to drive me out or discourage me.  The other revelation I learned is that one day Jesus will come back and separate the tares from the wheat. Until that time, God allows the Church to be intertwined with both. The question we need to honestly ask ourselves is which one am I? Am I a tare or am I “the wheat”. Another parable describes us as sheep and goats. When Jesus comes back will he assess us as one of the goats or one of the sheep. The sheep, Jesus says, “know my voice and obey my commands?. We don’t have to leave the church because of hypocrites; all the more reason why we need to stay and display what true Christian faith is, because God will continuously bring in lost souls and they, like I, will be looking for genuine faith and a Christian profession that is genuinely lived out. Will they find that in you?