Summary: Being a Real Deal Christian means we must start with God and not ourselves
The Starting Point
Copyright Rev. Bruce Goettsche 10/22/06 THE REAL DEAL SERIES
A person who is a sprinter has to learn how to start the race. They take a great deal of time learning how to position themselves in the “blocks” so they can get the most fluid and efficient start. A good start is often the difference between winning and losing a race.
I am not very talented when it comes to constructing things. One of my problems is the fact that I don’t know how to begin. I don’t know what to tear out, what to replace, or even what I should do first. Starting is a prerequisite to moving forward.
As we continue our study of 1 John we are working to learn how to become “Real Deal” Christians. We want to be real followers of Christ rather than mere pretenders. Like everything else, we have to know where and how to start. This morning we are going to learn how to start by focusing on 1 John 1:5,
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1:5)
REAL DEAL FAITH STARTS WITH GOD
I think it is significant to notice that John begins his discussion of real Christianity starting with the character of God. John understood that we cannot live right unless we think right. John begins his letter talking about theology just as Paul and Peter do. They understand that you have to have a good foundation on which to build or the structure built will be unsteady and even dangerous. People who say theology doesn’t matter, are just kidding themselves. What you believe about God will determine how you relate to Him, and how you follow Him.
So, it is vitally important that we begin our quest with a right and true understanding of God. This is different from the way we normally approach things. Most cults and offshoot religions start with a simple question, “Who Am I?” They come to their understanding of faith and religion based on what they believe people need. This is why they are so popular. They are giving people what they want.
John takes a different approach. His first question is this: “Who is God?” Man is not the center of the universe (even though we think we are). God is the central character in the universe. Once we find and understand (as much as we are able) God, we can work from there to understand what our life is meant to be.
Think about it. The same is true of a relationship. We can go into a relationship with another person focusing on the question: “What do I need?” or we can go into the relationship asking, “What does it mean to love?” If we go in primarily concerned about our needs, our relationship will be selfish, demanding, and sometimes even abusive. I know that as I look back on my dating relationships when I was in high school and college these relationships were often superficial. Much of the time I was self-absorbed (much more so than now) and often I just wasn’t very nice. Now, I realize this was largely because I was asking the wrong question. I was asking “what do I need?” (which was always changing depending on the situation and my mood) rather than saying, “what does it mean to have a loving relationship?
Likewise if we want to have a vital relationship with God we shouldn’t ask, “What kind of God do I need?” we should ask, “What is the true God like?” This of course raises an important question: How do we learn about God?
We seem to have three choices. We can say it is too difficult to understand who God is and simply give up. This isn’t helpful at all. Second, we could be quiet, think and ponder and come up with ideas about God. However, when we do this we are actually creating our own God. Truthfully, people do this all the time. We hear people say things like, “My God is not like that” or “I have a God who is more tolerant of . . . “ Their God may be comfortable, but is most likely an illusion.
Third, we could learn about God from what God tells us about himself. This is what John does. He says he is telling us the message that he heard from “him” (Jesus). John, learned about God from the God-Man, Jesus. Do you understand that the main reason we read the Bible is not so much to learn how to live as much as it is to listen to what God is telling us about Himself and His desires for our lives.