Summary: 1 John seems to reveal a generation gap for the first time in Christian experience. How do we handle this? John’s message is helpful here.
(The audio version of this is longer and more complete)
How do we pass on the truth to the next generation? How keep from losing our children to the world? Every generation has a choice to make. The gospel and letters of John may have been written to address this very subject. John writes to build Christian faith and love in us. Over and over he tells us what and why he is writing these things. Over and over he also reminds us of what we already know.
Last week we noted that John seems to have written his letters after the first generation of Christians has grown old and another new generation of Christians is on the scene. The second generation of Christianity is growing up and some are not content with the message they have received. One grave danger is that the next generation will want something new and improved and depart from the truth. When the newness wears off, what happens next? Wednesday night Jim Siler’s devotional topic was, “Is that all there is?” He talked about being disillusioned. This term “disillusioned” technically means, to remove the illusion or false euphoria. In other words, it means to come into reality. John tells us that the gospel is the ultimate reality, and it offers eternal benefits of fellowship with God, with one another, and complete joy.
Christians of the first generation were filled with glorious and inexpressible joy, even as they faced the trials of persecution and suffering. Many years have passed by the time John writes this, a new generation of Christians is now in the church and there is a severe doctrinal struggle within the church with many false teachers leading people astray. (Look at 2:19 & 26). Who are these? The church has faced the suffering of persecution, but perhaps now that has lessened. Now, while it is peaceful some of the Christians of the new generation begin to want to make Christianity fit into the world around them. They want a faith that fits, you know, one that works well in the philosophy of the times.
Someone has described the church as a group that is separated from the world and yet moving in the same direction as the world does, but from a distance. John warns us in this second chapter: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Let’s just look at this chapter in an overview:
Verses 1-2 tell us that we are not to be in the sinning business, but when we do sin, we have one who helps us, that is Jesus.
Verses 3-6 tells us how we know we have Jesus. It is simple: we obey him and imitate him. Anyone who says they know Jesus but does not obey and live like Jesus is a liar, pure and simple.
Verses 7-8 remind us of what is commanded. It is as old as the gospel and as new as the gospel and it brings us into the light. (By the way, the gospel, summed up, is how God showed his love through Jesus Christ).
Verses 9-11 says love for our brothers is a proof that we walk in the light. It is the foundational expression of knowing Jesus Christ, obeying his commandments, and walking in the light of God’s truth. John says, hating your brother is walking in darkness. Do that and you have no clue where you are going!