Monday, August 22, 2016

How Can You Know God?

Readings for the Day
Jeremiah 28-30, 1 John 3:9-10

Verses for the Day
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

Thoughts for the Day
One of the issues John is writing to the general Christian community about is how do you know you are a Christian? John's main point both in his gospel and letters is that we can "know" God and Jesus through the Spirit. He calls this being "born again", which is an often misunderstood and misused term. It basically means "born from above". This is why John so often stresses that believers are children of God. See John 1:12-13, where he specifically says this. But false teaching was infiltrating the Christian community about the nature of who Jesus was. One of the heresies called "docetism" taught that Jesus never really became human, but only appeared to be human. He was really a "spirit being" and to connect with him want had to have special knowledge in the spiritual realm. This is a distortion of the word John uses for "to know"("gnosis")

The problem was that this caused people to doubt whether they had an authentic relationship with God though Jesus. So John goes on further to say, "whoever does what is right and does not continue to sin is born of God". This can be very confusing if not interpreted correctly. He is not teaching that one has to be perfect to be a Christian. But he is confronting the false teaching that if one was connected to God through the Spirit they could do whatever they wanted in the body. Because the Spirit is good and the body is bad it didn't matter what you did in the body. Therefore, those who are born of God will do the things that God would have them do, and the behaviors Jesus modeled.

John is not preaching perfection but that as we have an authentic relationship with God, we can know him through Christ. And as we know him, he is in us and the evidence for that is a changed life. Mainly this is seen in how we love others. After all Jesus lavished his love on us by dying on the cross. With this example he has set for us a model for how we should love others. Do you realize you can know God in a very intimate and personal way? And that you don't have to do anything to get it. John 1 says it nicely,

"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."

The greatest gift God has given us is that we can know him now, and be with him forever. That is the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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