Summary: This message is an overview of the book of 1 John and part of a 2-year study of the Bible.
1 John: Be Real
by, Tony Thomas
Sr. Minister, Woodland Heights Christian Church, Crawfordsville, IN
No. 62 in a series called, Route 66, a Road Trip Through the Bible
In the fall of 2011, ABC-TV premiered a fantasy drama titled, Once Upon a Time. The setting is the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine. The residents are fairy tales characters who time-traveled to Storybrooke, but they were robbed of their memories.
In other words, they live in Storeybrooke with new identities. The Evil Queen is the town Mayor, Snow White is a fourth grade school teacher, Prince Charming is a comatose hospital patient, their infant daughter is now (28-years-old), and Rumpelstiltskin runs the local pawn shop.
In six seasons, there have been dozens of characters, from Robin Hood to the Mad Hatter to the Queen of Hearts; from Tinker Bell to Ariel to Red Riding Hood; from Pinocchio to Captain Cook to Repunzel. Each week one character after another discovers his real ID!
I watched that series for two seasons before I got lost! The characters played multiple roles, they lived in multiple time-dimensions, they traveled through a portal they couldn’t control and I couldn’t remember who was related to whom!
After two exciting but confusing seasons I needed a heavy dose of reality! The search for something real isn’t new with us. In fact, it’s as old as Adam and Eve. Man has looked for reality and satisfaction in wealth, thrills, conquests, romance, education and even religion.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these experiences as long as we recognize that they are temporary diversion. An experience doesn’t satisfy over the long haul. That solar eclipse that passed through on Monday was anticipated for 99 years, but it only lasted for 90 seconds and 90% of us missed it in Crawfordsville because of the simultaneous thunderstorm!
Wanting something real – and finding something real are two, altogether different things! It’s like eating cotton candy at Golden Coral: you bite into it thinking it’s real, only to end up with a mouthful of nothing. We waste priceless years on empty substitutes for reality.
And that’s what 1 John is all about. We’re in a series called Route 66 and this is week No. 62. We’re going through the Bible one book at a time and we’re in the home stretch.
The theme of 1 John is a life that is real. John is writing as an elderly man, and in his nearly one hundred years on earth, he discovered that satisfaction is not found in things or thrills, but in the person of Jesus Christ!
I. Helpful Trivia to Understand John
1st, John is the author of five books. He wrote one of the four gospels, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation. That’s 50 chapters. Luke wrote 52 chapters (Luke and Acts), and Paul wrote 87 chapters in thirteen letters.
Matthew’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus calling John to become one of his twelve disciples:
Matthew 4:18 Jesus saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, casting a net into the lake.
19 Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
21 Then he saw James and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father, mending their nets.
22 Jesus called them, and they left the boat and their father to follow Jesus.
When John was called to follow Jesus, he was mending nets. John was a mender. John noticed broken people and he helped them put their lives back together. John spent his life restoring what was damaged and ruined.
Mike Murdock wrote a chorus you might remember:
I want to spend my life mending broken people
I want to spend my life removing pain
Lord, let my words heal a heart that hurts,
I want to spend my whole life mending broken people.
2nd, John is the last of the original Twelve. Jesus called twelve men to be his disciples. Judas was the first to go (hung himself), and all the others followed with the exception of John: he’s the only disciple not to die of martyrdom. And that makes John the last, surviving disciple.
That means that John wrote to second and third generation believers. John was an old man writing to young people, and he was writing from a perspective no one else could.
William Barclay writes:
“By AD 100, Christianity had become a thing of habit, traditional, half-hearted, and nominal. John was writing when the thrill was gone and the flame of devotion had died to a flicker.”
Some of us are 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation Christians, too! If we aren’t careful and vigilant our faith will evolve into nothing more than a habit. Our prayers will be powerless, our Bible reading stale and our fellowship will lack sincerity.