September 20, 2019
Scripture: 1st John 5:21
Little children, guard yourselves from idols!
Thought for the Day: This is how the letter we call 1st John ends. It seems almost anticlimactic, a bit unsatisfying. Throughout the closing verses there appeared to be a big push in regard to who can sin and how prayer can or cannot help in certain situations. And then, the very last line of the entire letter feels like a, “Oh by the way, be cautious of the idols!” Each time I come across that verse, I look to see how chapter 6 begins because I assume it must be a continuation of the thought…forgetting that there is no chapter 6. It’s like getting an email from a family member who gives updates on the kids, the weather and how the local sports team is doing well. And then ends by saying, “Be on guard against biting turtles!” What?
The whole last chapter of 1st John feels a little choppy as if the author had a long list of other issues that needed to be raised, but was running out of paper. In a world where we, using the computer, can have as many drafts of a letter as we want, it is hard to imagine what it was like to write a letter in the first century. And in reading 1st John again, I feel as if the author was not criticizing or railing against the community. Instead, it comes from a deep love and concern. When I was in college, I would receive letters from my mother. They were full of news and updates, but inevitably she would have a string of cautionary statements: “Make sure you’re taking your vitamins. Get plenty of sleep. I know they have orange juice in the cafeteria, so drink a couple of glasses. I’ll send some cold medicine just in case.” When you’re 19, you roll your eyes and think, “Oh, mom! I’m fine. Don’t worry.” But as you get a bit older, you appreciate the concern and love. I imagine the audience of 1st John might have had a few who rolled their eyes, but most of them heard the concern and knew it came from a place of love.
Prayer: Give me eyes to see the love that others share, even when that love comes in a string of seemingly unrelated thoughts. Amen.
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