April 26, 2019
2 John 7-9
I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.
My daughters are required to start each school day reciting the Pledge of Allegiance (but we live in Texas, which means they’re also required to say the Pledge to the Texas Flag, which given the way pledges work I think means they cancel out each other… but I’m no expert).
They do this for the same reason the National Anthem is sung before sporting events: pledges and anthems declare the story of who a people are and what they hold most sacred. They confer identity on a people group because their declarations are considered non-negotiable.
Which is why every Sunday at the church I pastor we open the service with everyone standing and saying the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic (universal) church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
This creed is the ancient pledge and anthem of our faith: it is the non-negotiable of what it means to be Christian. Denominations have their dogma (like free will vs. predestination) and then there are opinions (like liturgical vs. modern worship). But regardless of dogma or opinion, doctrine matters. The creed matters. It is non-negotiable.
The first believers dealt with this stuff, too. Like when they argued if someone needed circumcision to be saved, or if it was okay for a believer to eat food that had been offered in worship to idols. But what was not up for debate was the very basics of the faith: That Jesus is the only way to God. That he is the Son of God who came to earth in a real body, through a virgin birth, who died for our sins and then rose from the dead, then went to heaven and is coming back again.
If we can’t hold to these basics, then is our belief really Christian?
At least that is what John is saying in today’s text. It seems there were folks in the church he’s writing to that denied a non-negotiable: that Jesus existed in a real body, which is the most basic of basic Christian doctrine.
He calls them deceivers, which is defined as a person who causes someone to believe something that is not true. And given what we’ve already seen in this letter about what truth is, John is saying there are folks in the church who are moving others away from Jesus to their own truth. He calls them an anti-christ, not in a derogatory way, but factually because what they are preaching and doing is opposed to the basic truth of who Christ is and our identity in their relationship as Father and Son.
So if John is writing about this issue back then to a few friends, and this little letter made it into the canon of Holy Scripture, it seems it can still be an issue today between you and me. This is a warning for believers across all time and all places, and tomorrow we’ll see the truth of tough love John has for us.
Jesus, abide in me and I will abide in you. Help me know the truth about who you are, and may that truth set me free. Amen.
What is your non-negotiable in the faith, and is it a matter of doctrine, dogma, or opinion?
For the awakening,