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Entries in I John (22)


The world is in you

Lloyd-Jones discusses overcoming the world. He points out that cloistering oneself off from the world, similar to what the monastic movement did, is ultimately not the answer:

... the world is not only outside us with its sin and temptations and attractions, but it is also inside us -- the flesh, our own unregenerate nature. So in a sense, it is almost childish to think I can overcome the world by taking myself out of it, because when I have gone into my cell the world is still within me; so my attempt is to escape by physical means is almost doomed to failure. This is something that we all must now from experience. We have all been alone, we have all been isolated at certain times; the world has not been there to tempt us. But was all well with us? Were we perfectly happy; were we free from temptation; was the mind and the outlook and the spirit of the world entirely absent? God knows that such is not the case!

You can go away and spend your day on top of a mountain, but you cannot get away from the world; it is in you, so that any retirement to a monastery, or becoming an anchorite or a hermit, is doomed to failure. That is the whole story of Martin Luther; look at the excellent monk in his cell -- fasting, sweating, praying, out of the world in a sense, and yet finding that the world was in him and he could get no peace. Therefore, withdrawal from the world and from society does not get rid of the world in the New Testament sense of the term.


It cannot give us victory

From Karen Jobes's commentary on I John, reflecting on I John 5:5:

Without faith in Christ, no one is able to face down the evil, the hopelessness, and the self-defeat that this world presses on us day by day. There may be many self-help gurus who write and speak about how to live a better life, and some of what they say may be helpful and worthwhile. But what is of the world cannot give us victory over the world. Without trust in Christ, who came into the world from God, even the most successful life is swallowed up in the defeat of death.

I can't help but think of the many ways we as Christians unconsciously try to use worldly ways to overcome the very world we live in. The political process, more education, more social justice, more financial security. And yet, ultimately, none of those things can overcome the world. They may offer a poorly placed band-aid, but ultimately, they cannot do what only Christ can do. 


A very thorough and practical test

As he discusses I John 5:1-3, Lloyd-Jones emphasizes that someone who is truly a Christian does not find God's commandments burdensome:

... someone who is truly Christian does not find the commandments of God to go against the grain. He may be acutely aware of his failure -- if he is facing them truly he must be -- but he does not resent them, he loves them. He knows they are right, and wants to keep them and to love them. He does not feel they are a heavy load imposed upon him: he says, rather, 'This is right; this is how I would like to live. I want to be like Christ Himself -- His commandments are not grievous.'

So  here is a very thorough and practical test: is my Christian living a task? Is it something I resent and object to? Do I spend my time trying to get out of it? Am I trying to compromise with the life of the world? Am I just living on the edge of the Christian life, or do I want to get right into the centre and live the life of God and be perfect even as my Father in heaven is perfect? 'His commandments are not grievous' to Christian men and women; they know that is what God asks of them. They love God and therefore they want to keep his commandments.


I'm not a poet ...

In the month of October, I did quite a bit of walking, enjoying the colours of the season. I just love fall. Here in Ontario, we are blessed with such a variety of trees. I love how the red maples and sumac leap out from the landscape. When the soybeans begin to turn brown, and most of the trees have lost their leaves, any shades of red are such a bold contrast. 

I especially like what the light does to the leaves:

From the other side, with my back to the sun, the leaves are still beautiful, but the sunlight streaming through them illuminates their colour, giving them a beautiful glow. When I am out walking in the morning I notice it, but I especially notice it at twilight. After I took this picture, I stood right underneath the trees and pointed my camera straight up. It was a canopy of gold. Even as the leaves fade and dry up, the sunlight streaming through them gives them beauty.

Yesterday, at twilght, I went walking to enjoy the light. The sky was clear and crisp, and despite the fact that many trees have dropped their leaves, there were many lit up by the low sun streaming through them. It was beautiful. I thought to myself that just as the light gives beauty to those leaves, Christ's light gives us beauty. The leaf can be dried and almost ready to drop, but the light makes it beautiful. We are at our most beautiful when the light of Christ shines through us. I'm not much of a poet, but that thought went through my mind. I'm sure someone with a more poetic mind could do something very nice with that notion.

This coming Sunday, I will finish teaching the book of I John. In recent lessons, we have been talking about love. We began our study with discussing light.

If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another ... (I John 1:7)

Part of our fellowship that comes with walking in the light is showing love to others. If we are born of God, we will love others (I John 4:7-8). The way we can let the light of Christ shine in us is by loving others. And it doesn't have to be a grand thing. I was thinking this past weekend that simple consideration toward others is a way to show love. Not being careless with others is showing love. Giving someone five minutes of our time is showing love to others. In a day and age when we have so many things to gives us "more time" do we actually give people more time? Taking two minutes to answer or send an e-mail for encouragement should not be so onerous, but sometimes, it is. 

There are thousands of ways to show love, to let the love of Christ shine through us. Women will often spend a lot of money to be physically beautiful, but I believe we are at our most beautiful when we let the light of Christ be our adornment.


... if I say I believe this, then I must live like that ... 

Lloyd-Jones speaks about the New Testament method of teaching about holiness:

The living of the Christian life, according to the New Testament, is not primarily dependent upon some experience or some blessing which we have received. It is, rather, the outworking of the truth which we claim to believe. Now I suggest that that can never be repeated too frequently. Go through these New Testament epistles, and I think you will always find that that is their invariable method. The first half of most of these epistles is pure doctrine, a reminder to the people of what God has done to them and the exalted position in which they have been placed. And then the writer says, "Therefore ... "

This is the New Testament method. If I say I believe this, then I must live like that. There is no use in me saying I believe this unless I behave like that, and there are terrible warnings against not doing this. The New Testament teaching of holiness is always in terms of truth.