Summary: The privilege of divine childhood must be followed up with divine purity.
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Unless indicated otherwise, all scripture is quoted from the New Living Translation of the Bible.
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I realize that it’s a little bit difficult to be thinking about baseball at this time of the year – especially when the weather is so grumpy. But the text this morning brought to mind my own short-lived, but meaningful career in little league.
And when I say short-lived I don’t mean that I dropped out after two weeks. Although I’m sure that some of my team mates wished I had. I stuck it out for the whole season -- even earning the highly coveted "most improved player" award at the banquet.
The Lancers were a great team -– although we weren’t really very good. We did win a game – once – or maybe twice. I can’t remember. There are some things that we repress because they are too painful to remember. But I do remember that there were some downright discouraging games.
We’d come trotting into the dugout after a particularly devastating inning -- not sure that we had enough confidence to even take our turn as bat. And our coach, Paul, would gather us around for a pep talk. He never yelled at us for making stupid mistakes.
He always encouraged us. "You can do it. I’ve got confidence in you -- after all you’re my team."
We’d get all pumped up and once again we were able to take the field to face the opposition with confidence!
Well, our text this morning is John’s pep talk to a struggling team. He was concerned that they not lose their faith -- that they not lose their confidence and fail to play the game.
As undoubtedly you recall, these Christians were under considerable pressure -- not because of persecution, as was often the case in the first century. No, the pressure that these believers faced was because of false teachers that were trying to destroy the unity in their ranks -- false teachers claiming that simple lives of faith and obedience were not enough -- false teachers offering a new initiation into some kind of special knowledge that they were claiming to posses -- false teachers that may have been confusing a lot of people -- undercutting their confidence.
And coach John is rallying the believers so that they might have the confidence necessary to take the field and ultimately to stand before Christ at the great awards banquet on the day of his appearing.
Frankly, some of us here this morning are in need of a pep talk. Things aren’t going too well in your life right now. Even though you hear upbeat Christmas music everywhere you go, you don’t feel at all upbeat. Maybe you’ve been hit with some bad news recently -- about your health or your job or your friend who has been disloyal. And you’re not so sure about your faith, either. Some of this turmoil is causing you to have some real doubts.
Well, I want you to know that the apostle John is writing with you in mind. He wants you to see that in spite of the way things look – if you know Christ, if you have received him -- then you stand in a unique category in all humanity. You are on a select team. You are a person of privilege.