Sunday August 26th
1 John 4
Three Blondes were all applying for a position with the Detective Bureau.
The detective conducting the interviews opened a file drawer and pulled out a folder. He opened it and pulled out a picture, and said, "To be a detective, you have to be able to detect. You must be able to notice things such as distinguishing facial features, such as scars and so forth." Then he stuck the photo in the face of the first blonde for about two seconds.
"Now," he said, "did you notice any distinguishing features about this man?"
The blonde immediately said, "Yes, I did. He has only one eye!"
The detective shook his head and said, "Of course he has only one eye in this picture! It's a profile of his face!"
The detective then turned to the second blonde, stuck the photo in her face for two seconds and said, "What about you? Did you notice anything unusual about this man?"
"Yes!” she said, “He only has one ear!"
The detective put his head in his hands and exclaimed, "Didn't you hear what I just told that other lady? This is a profile of the man's face! Of course you can only see one of his ears!"
The detective turned his attention to the third blonde and said, "This is probably a waste of time, but..." He flashed the photo in her face for a couple of seconds and said, "All right, did you notice anything distinguishing or unusual about this man?"
The blonde said, "I sure did. That man wears contact lenses."
The detective took another look at the picture and then began looking at some of the papers in the folder.
He looked up at the blonde with a puzzled expression and said, "You're absolutely right! His file says he wears contacts! But how in the world could you tell that by looking at his picture?"
The blonde shrugged her shoulders and said, "Well, with only one eye and one ear he certainly can't wear regular glasses."
In the fourth chapter of 1st John, we are also told to be ready to do some testing and to be tested:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
So that’s the test that we have to use for things claiming to be from the Holy Spirit. The second test is one that we can apply to ourselves to answer the question, “How am I doing in my Christian walk?
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
In an old Peanuts comic strip. Linus tells Lucy that he plans to become a doctor. Lucy stops to offer her usual sarcastic criticism: “That’s a big laugh!” she says. “You could never be a doctor! You know why?”
Then,she offers her analysis of Linus: “Because you don’t love mankind, that’s why!”
Linus shakes his head and comes back with this defense: “I love mankind…its people I can’t stand!”
There is a basic need felt by all of humanity – a need to be loved, valued, and accepted.
In one of the daily devotionals that I use, the author says that one of the great questions that each person asks as they find their way through life is – “Will I be loved?”
There was a famous millionaire who lived in seclusion and became a hermit. He had an ugly old dog that kept biting the few people who did come to visit him. One of his visitors told him, “You’ve got to get rid of that dog.” But the man refused. He said, “That dog loves me… and he doesn’t even know how rich I am.”
According to John, as Christians we are supposed to be the ones who are answering that significant question to the world around us – “Yes, you are loved! God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die in your place, so that you might live with Him forever! And because God loves you, and I am a follower of God, I love you too!”
That’s the test that I’m talking about. John says in verse 12: “if we love one another, God abides in us.”
Well, do we? Because if we aren’t loving one another then maybe it’s because God isn’t abiding in us!
There’s a reason why we have trouble with love, and we’ll get to that a few verses later.
14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
So we see that when we feel God’s perfect love, we have confidence. Why? Verse 18 explains it to us:
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
God’s love is perfect, and it brings us the promise of perfection as soon as we receive it. But because we are being made perfect over the course of time, the remnants of our old fears may temporarily coexist with God’s love in our hearts and minds. But the “Perfecting love” of God “casts out fear” progressively more day by day as we embrace the reality of it in our lives, and in each other’s lives as well.
Here is a fantastic true story about a man whose fear was completely erased by coming to know God’s love. It’s told by an old man from the mountains of Tennessee:
"I was born not far from here -just over the mountain. My mother had never been married, and the shame that fell on her fell on me. When I went to school they called me such horrible names that I would take my lunch and eat alone.
I hated the rejection and the ridicule. On Saturdays when I go into town, I could hear people whispering behind my back, “Who do you think his father is?”
We didn’t go to church because we didn’t feel we were good enough. But when I was 14 years old, a minister came to speak at a school assembly. He moved my heart. He was so warm and inspiring. I decided to go and hear him preach in his church. I thought I would go and then leave immediately after the service was over. I didn’t want to stick around because I didn’t want anyone to say to me, “What’s a boy like you doing in church?” I dreaded rejection more than anything else.
But after the service ended, I didn’t get out of my pew fast enough. When I got to the door, people were blocking my way out, so I had to stand in line. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I turned around, and there was the preacher. I felt like his eyes were burning into my soul, and he said, “Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?"
I said to myself, “That question that has haunted me all my life. And, now again, I will be rejected.”
But the preacher said, “That’s all right, son. Don’t answer. I see a family resemblance in you. Yes, you are God’s son. God in heaven is your daddy, boy! Go out in pride. You’re God’s child!
He said, "Those words –“You are God’s child’ - were the most transforming words I’d ever heard. They changed my life forever."
At the core of the Christian Faith is this simple but profound fact: God loves you just as you are! Nothing you or I could ever do will change the heart of God toward us. Regardless of who we are, or where we came from, or what we have or have not done with our lives, God loves us, and He always will. That’s the kind of perfect love that drives away all fear!