From the standpoint of being on earth, we are equal. We are from the same ancestor, Noah. Noah came from Adam, who was created in the image of God. We have the same potential to be received by God. We have the same requirements for life in the body: air, water, food, clothing, and shelter. We have the same needs of the spirit: to be loved and to practice love. All have the same weakness of sinning and the same responsibility to repent. Within the scope of repentance, the same capacities exist: to evaluate our behavior by the standard God has set forth, regret, and turn to God for mercy.
How do we treat others who do not conform to our point of view? Maybe we feel we are taking the high road by wearing a mask. The common reason is, “You wear the mask for the sake of protecting people around you.” However, is it worth risking our souls to speak evil of our neighbors because they do not accept our understanding of good? “Meatheads refuse to wear a mask.” On the other hand, we may feel that freedom is at stake, and that the risk factor of disease is being amped up by people who want the world to be under their control. Therefore, we refuse to wear the mask. Do we not risk our souls if we revile others who do not share our point of view? “Sheeple” is a common expression of scorn from such (which ironically, is an attempt to cow others into submission).
Brotherly love and loving our neighbor as ourselves seem close, almost the same. There is a distinction, in that brotherly love is a direct result of salvation. It comes from our being a part of God’s family, “the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). We have a shared identity and appreciation. Whereas loving our neighbor is the ministry of Christ to a world in need: “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). For the sake of all, love means appreciating others for the goodness they possess, or the potential for goodness which everyone has. It means trying to understand others – to see their point of view, then to act accordingly. We must leave the condemnation of others to God. It is not our place. In light of the ministry of Jesus, we can say that even Jesus sustains the hope of reconciliation to all without condemnation. Don’t you think His intent was on what we could become (our potential) rather than what we were? Didn’t that make our salvation possible? “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). “And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:47).
First, think of God the Creator and sustainer of all. Think of One who has unlimited awareness. Not a sparrow dies without Him knowing. The hairs of our heads are numbered.
Therefore, antichrist describes a people discontent with and disconnected from the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, who make their own rules, and present to the world a counterfeit Jesus made after their own image by counterfeit teaching. John did not make a dry observation about antichrist. It carries a strong note of warning through the book.
Spiritual blindness is different from eyes that are not functioning properly or are ruined. Spiritual blindness has to do with allowing our lives to be the final authority on what is accepted and true. It is blindness because we are not the authority. When we make ourselves the authority, we can only reflect upon our projections of reality. So, we surround ourselves with a type of knowledge limited to ourselves. This excludes knowing what is beyond us because we cannot admit contradictions to the biases of our fleshly mind. Being impressed with ourselves is a little like being in a room of mirrors, wowed at the seeming infinite, while after all being in a small room.
On the other hand, productive misery is a lonely, but necessary, journey. It is guided by the hope of something better. We can take no one with us as we examine the fruit of our behavior. No one can think for us. No one can appreciate for us. No one can regret for us. No one can repent for us. No one can yield to the hope of good news for us. God will do none of those things for us. We must do it alone. However, God makes it possible for us to accomplish those things.
The love of God determined that Christ depart the realm of glory to make Himself of no reputation. The result was redemption and a return to glory. It was done for our sakes. This was and is the supreme compromise. By following Jesus, we are clothed to reflect that great love. We do this by finding a meeting point, a compromise with our neighbors in the world and with our family in Christ….
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). There are victims in this world. There are people who have been subjugated and abused by others more powerful than themselves: the bullies and the bullied, the wealthy oppressing the poor, men of power trapping the powerless, adults abusing…
“Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he.” I was introduced to this odd little song with accompanying gestures somewhere between my twenty-third and twenty-eighth birthday. I had never heard children’s songs like this. What a fascinating character, this wee little man. Zacchaeus “was a chief tax collector, and he…