Changes: Looking More Like Jesus, 1 John 2:4-6;
preached at Sunset Canyon Baptist Church, August 5, 2018
Temple of Artemis, looking west (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
Changes: Looking More Like Jesus
1 John 2:4-6
SCBC August 5, 2018
David E. Little
Intro: Prayers for Lonny and family. Thank Mark and crew. Thank Connan for finding musicians and integrating them into our worship.
Intro to the Sermon: It has been a busy summer, and I have missed worshiping with you. Since June 24, 2018 I have been a Resident Chaplain and the Audie Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio. Sunday July 8, 2018 – preach and work at VA Hospital; Sunday July 22, 2018 – preach at Kendalia Community Church; Saturday July 28, 2018 went to College Station, Texas to visit my pseudo-grandparents Jack and Fran Slack.
Story: Jack and Fran
Jack and Fran Slack are my cousins, but I know them as my pseudo-grandparents because of their age and the fact that my Dad took me and my brother Bobby to their house when we were younger after my paternal grandparents died. I went to see them in College Station last weekend for Fran's 90th birthday and their 60th Wedding anniversary. I went up there with Dad and Kim, which was - in my judgment - out of the way (it was in north Austin) but Bobby said - and rightly so - that it was a chance to be with them on the way, and that was what I should do. Reminded me of In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon in 1896, and "What would Jesus Do?" Jack and Fran were role models to me because of their love for the Lord, their hospitality, and their family. They are 90+ now, and Jack is blind (b/c of macular degeneration), and Fran is wheel-chair bound and suffers from dementia. In fact, I am sure she didn’t know me Saturday. But Jack dotes on that wife of his, and says that they have gotten to know each other even better through the difficulties and the illnesses.
Transition into Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:4-6
What a pair. When I think of both of them, I think they are living (as close as possible) like Christ would. The Bible teaches that for us as Christians. It seems that God – through His wonder - takes us and through His Holy Spirit changes us – bit by bit – into Christ’s image. There are a number of Scriptures that touch on that, but today I am going to 1 John 2:6. Let’s go there now…
Few books of the New Testament are more loved, memorized, or quoted than 1 John. Tradition says that the book - as well as the Gospel of John, the other books of John (2 & 3), and Revelation were all authored by John, son of Zebedee, brother of James. There are those scholars today that believe it was authored by an elder in the Johannine Community, with valid reasons, but strong similarities between the Gospel of John and John 1 argue for common authorship. He is technically anonymous, and is “an eyewitness of Christ.” He also writes in a tone that is virtually apostolic. Both internal and external evidence point to John as the author.
The letter was written in Asia Minor, probably Ephesus, around 85-100 A.D. The letter was written to a church (or churches) that had been attacked by false doctrine, that probably arose from within the Johannine Community. The themes include (1) Jesus Christ as the epitome and example of love to the community (3:16-18), (2) God himself is love (4:16), and (3) that loves derives from Him and that the Christian life is lived in Him (4:12-13). The content of the scripture for today is walking in obedience like Jesus walked (2:6).
1 John 2
1 John 2 is talking about obey the command to love, specifically verses 4-6 are to love God and keep His commands. It is there we turn…
Scripture for Today: 1 John 2:4-6
1 John 2:4-6 (NIV)
4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
1 John 2:5 Or word, God’s love
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
4: Verse 4 outlines that a person who does not know God, or have a relationship with Him, will be exposed as a liar by his disobedience to God’s commands. This is to combat the false prophets that said they knew God, but disobeyed His commands. In such a case, “the truth” (about Jesus Christ) is altogether absent from his life. But we are fallen, and the Bible and 1 John (both before and after this Scripture) is quick to say that we are sinners. In fact, anyone who claims not to be a sinner is a liar (1 John 1:8).
5: Knowing God is epitomized with love. By keeping His commands, you show that the truth is in you. It is the idea that our love for God is perfected when we keep His word. If you have a relationship with God, then you have know intimately the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and your keeping the commands is evidence of that.
6: The accuracy of the claim is measured by the extent the individual walks as Jesus walked. The phrase “in him” is more than Jesus, (i.e., the Triune God), but Jesus is there also. It is this knowledge of Jesus, both permanent and continuous acts as a basis for and the power to live ethically.
But Walking like Jesus walked during Chaos or changes:
It may be easy to walk like Jesus walked when everything is right in your world, when you are in control (or at least think you’re in control)…at the proverbial mountaintop or peak. What about the valleys, though? What do you do when chaos comes? When changes come?
Lonny preached last Sunday that the protection of God means that nothing will be unfruitful; but it will be a struggle and we have to be prepared for tough times in this world. Maybe changes are part of the tough times? Maybe it is part of the wonder of God that He uses changes – tough times – to make us more like Christ (and less like ourselves)?
Picture of Ruins: Sardis Turkey and the Christian church
On the screen is the first of two pictures. First, a picture of the 4th largest Ionic temple in the world – the ruins of the Temple to Artemis, the Greek fertility god, at Sardis, Turkey. Though it was built and added onto for many centuries, the original dates back to about 300 B.C. Did you know that one of the seven churches in Revelation was at Sardis? The tall white ruins you see are from the mid-2nd century A.D., from a then Roman temple to Artemis, also known as “Diana” to the Romans. The worship included practices that one missionary described as “cruel, demeaning, and in the end, empty.” Then, you see a picture with what looks like – and is – a brick building below the temples to the left. That is a 4th century Christian church. Right up against the ruins of the Temple, they brought light in an area full of darkness. Not afraid of the chaos, they brought real change to the community of people.
We have a new Family Life Center. It has classrooms for children, a conference room, a dining location, and a gym. Can you think of anyone in the community that could use it?
Story: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane:
You know, if we walk like Jesus, then we have to assume the world – or at least parts of the world – isn’t going to like us. It is like light emanating through the darkness, and the world doesn’t like it (and Satan really doesn’t either). That is why it is so difficult at times. When I think of that, my mind takes me back to the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night that Jesus was betrayed. He took friends, and prayed to the Lord to take this “cup” of suffering for him away. I think it was His human will battling God’s will. It was so painful He sweated blood, and asked three times for the suffering and death He was about to undergo to be taken away from Him. In the end, He did what we should do – He allowed God to win out. He suffered and died for us and for Him. Aren’t we thankful he changed His circumstance for the world – for us?
Do you think the world today needs His love, care, comfort, and peace?
Back to my story of Jack and Fran:
There is more to the story I told y’all at the beginning of this sermon. My trip over to College Station was with my Dad and Kim. For whatever reason, Dad started to tell me the real story behind me and Bob going down to Refugio every year when we were kids. It seems my Mom and Dad were having a tough time in their marriage in 1969. They were having issues, and Dad also had a job being the Assistant Sports Information Director at the University of Texas at Austin. Texas was good in football that year, and was 10-0, ranked No. 1, and playing Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl that December. By the way, my Mom and Dad got divorced in 1973, but they were trying to hang onto their marriage. My grandfather on my Dad’s side was ill, and so Dad’s parents couldn’t take us. My Mom’s parents had something to do, and my parents were out of options. My Dad called his mother’s sister, Fran Slack, who was married to Jack, down in Refugio. Jack was an Aggie – all four of their kids went to A&M, and are involved with A&M still in various capacities. If you can imagine, the thought of two little Longhorns coming down, with a National Championship on T.V., and us sitting in front of the T.V. in our orange jumpsuits and Longhorn helmets, must have gone through Jack and Fran’s mind. But they were more gracious, loving, and kind to my father and us – and said yes. Longhorn football was a little better then, than it is today (although there’s always hope!), and we went to Bowl games until the mid-1970’s. Every year we went down to Plum-Nelly (plum out of Goliad, and nearly to Refugio) and had the pseudo-grandparents that now know our kids as Heidi and Papa. A Family change that was good for the children of God!
We here at Sunset Canyon Baptist Church area family. Do you know a family member in change that needs a presence and help?
Bring it to the Congregation:
Look back on your life. Look at the changes God has brought in your world, whether of a worldly nature, community, family, or personal. It is my hope that you will say, after it all, that God has brought good out of it to bring you closer to Him or make you more like Jesus.
But you say, how can that be when the world – life – has trials for you to walk through? Remember Roman 8:28 says that Got can work all things for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.
[Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 Or that all things work together for good to those who love God, who; or that in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good—with those who]
By the way, Paul says in 8:29 virtually the same thing John says in 1 John 2:6. (8:29 says the same thing as 1 John 2:6, “conformed to the image of His son” with other theological issues, such a predestination). His purpose is His will – it’s being like Him (or Jesus). In other words, you are closer to God when you are in His will. The closest you can get to “in His will” is to be like Jesus (who was Him and displayed what it was to be Him in human form). Walk like Jesus! Isn’t change good for us who are called children of God?
What about others; non-believers? Maybe changes are a way for God to speak to them through Chaos – when you are down in a hole, you look for a rope to get out….or when you are at sea, you look for a rock that sticks up to grab onto and rest…Maybe you Walking like Jesus next to them will have the Holy Spirit in you knocking on their heart when they are in chaos and can hear?
Changes are scary because we are not in control. Some of us (maybe all of us) like to be in control (Pastor as Person), and change is not control – it’s anything but control (chaos). But God promises peace beyond all understanding when we are close to Him and walking with Him. And He promises to work good for His children. Maybe walking “in Him” – like Jesus, is the answer for our dilemma. In the family, family of faith, community, and the world!
Maybe a prescription for change is to get close to God; to have the relationship that Jesus had with Him.
Let us pray.