Summary: In Jesus our identity is to be children of God who are mature, or growing in maturity. This identity means that we are incompatible with the world, therefore we cannot love the world.
You can listen to the full message here:-
When Identity and Actions Are Incompatible
Last year I brought an USB router off ebay – it was really cheap. I made sure it was being sold by a seller based in Australia. It turned out that, somehow, sellers can pretend they are based in Australia even when they are not.
When the router came the plug was the style they use in America.
American plugs don’t fit into Australian electrical sockets.
I now know why the USB router was so cheap – it was incompatible.
Incompatible means that two things are so different they cannot go together.
Sometimes you can come up with ways to make them go together. In my case I brought a plug adapter and the USB router works fine.
But there are other times where, no matter what you do, you cannot get the two incompatible things to go together.
Our text today from 1 John 2:14-17 tells us about two situations which are incompatible.
12 I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.
14 I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever.
Up to this point in the letter John has been asking some very significant questions and getting the readers to think deeply about the state of their faith relationship.
And if we are honest it has been pretty intense.
Do I claim to be one sort of person and live a different way?
Am I deceiving myself?
Have I become a hypocrite?
These have been pretty intense discussions. It has been necessary … but it has been intense. Now because John is disciples with a strong pastoral heart John knows that intense discussions like this can only go on for so long. So here John takes a break to remind the readers who they are … to give them reassurance about their Christian identity.
So who are the “children”, the “fathers” and the “young men”?
And you are also thinking, “What about the mothers and the young women?”
Well, actually, those two questions are linked.
Starting with the children. John is not focussing on a specific age group.
The Finns, Leons, Arthurs, Lydias, Enus, Jirehs, Micahs, Gabbies, Abbys, Ambers and Theos.
John loves the children.
NEC loves the children as well.
But in this text children are not defined by age – rather it is a collective of a group of people.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.
The children are all the members of all the congregations that John is writing to. They are the ones whose sins have been forgiven. They are the ones who know the Father. The “children” are all of us who believe in Jesus … male or female.
“Children” is a collective word.
“Fathers” is also a collective word.
It is not a collective for a group of people – it is a collective for a spiritual stage of life. That stage when we have a mature faith that enables us to be able to speak spiritual direction into the lives of others. The “fathers” are those to whom we go for training in Christian living.
So this collective includes males and females.
But also realise that this collective does not necessarily refer to people who are older. There are some “fathers” who are quite young, yet it is to these people that some will go for spiritual direction and training. Equally true is the fact that there are some older people to whom very few would turn to as “father” – they just don’t have the maturity.
John is saying that within the readers such “fathers” exist – they are the ones who have known him who is from the beginning.