September 13, 2019
Scripture: 1st John 4:1-2
Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world. This is how you know if a spirit comes from God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come as a human is from God…
Thought for the Day: Docetism was a religious belief that suggested Jesus was not born of flesh, but was a spirit, a celestial being. It often played itself out in extreme dualism – flesh is evil and spirit is good. Salvation was nothing other than escaping the evils of the flesh, and rising into the true reality of the spirit. There are many reasons why Docetism was declared a heresy, but beginning with the beginning, scripture speaks poetically of God creating the earth and declaring it good. The author of 1st John seems to have more than one motive for writing, but responding to Docetism is part of the rationale. Christianity has historically desired orthodoxy, but whose definition of orthodoxy? Usually those with authority, money and military have been able to define orthodoxy. Scripture is complicated, and you can have opposing views that draw upon scripture and both claim to be the orthodox belief. Brian McLaren wrote a book a number of years ago entitled, “A Generous Orthodoxy,” and though I really enjoyed the book, I loved the title. When I think of generous, I imagine benevolence and even sacrifice for the sake of another. Christian orthodoxy, by its name, should already be generous and Christ-like. It must be benevolent and self-sacrificing. I’m not ready to claim Docetism or anything close to it, but if I encounter someone claiming such a belief, I will try to explore why; what brought the person to that belief; how does that belief impact the person’s life on a daily basis? I am becoming more convinced that we as people of faith are not called to prove our faith to anyone or to intimidate someone with some imaginary orthodoxy. We are called to live a life of love, and if someone needs to change, love is more than capable. I think those who try to use orthodoxy as a fear-tactic do not trust the power of love or do not wish to put forth the effort and take the risk required to actually love.
Prayer: Let my strongest held belief be none other than your love, O Lord, revealed in Jesus. May I trust love as Jesus did, even as he hung upon the cross. Amen.
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