A Weekday Devotional from Central Presbyterian Church. Find another day here.
Tuesday May 12, 2020
1 John 2:28-29
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
One of my earliest memories is my home birthday party from turning 6 or 7. Along with my friends, my parents had invited one of their friends who had just gotten a new piece of technology called a home camcorder, which could actually take movies that you could watch later on your TV using the VCR! He went around the party taking video of all the shenanigans for posterity, asking people to say something for the camera. Even at my own party, I was not comfortable being the center of attention, so when the camera was pointed in my face and I was asked to say something, I became afraid and, in my awkward shyness, attempted to run away. Because the storm door to the backyard was never able to close quite enough to latch, I was used to running out of the house without bothering to use the handle. However, this time someone had made sure to close the door all the way behind them, which I only discovered when, as I fled from the scary camera, instead of pushing open the door, to my horror, I pushed the glass right out of the door. The dislodged pane hit the pavement and immediately shattered into thousands of razor-sharp tiny shards. The loud crash of the glass brought all eyes upon me and, more embarrassed than ever and certain that I would be in huge trouble, escape was my only option. With my primary exit now impassable, I changed course and quickly ran up the stairs of our walk-out basement rancher and hid in the back of my parents closet, hoping to somehow escape the impending doom that was sure to await me. I didn’t move a muscle or respond in any way as the revelers turned search-and-rescuers excitedly called my name.
After what felt like an eternity of hiding in the darkness, the closet door finally slid open and my distraught mother greeted me with a huge embrace of relief. I had no idea that when I didn’t respond to their calls inside the house, my parents had assumed that I had run out the front door, with terrifying visions of their young son bleeding-out somewhere in the neighborhood. Upon inspection, my only injury was to my pride. Although my parents never had the intention of punishing me for the accident, the consequences of my fear-driven decision to run away and hide was missing out on my own birthday party, as by now all of the guests had given up the search and gone home.
John’s admonition to abide, or remain, in Jesus is presented in light of His impending return. Before Jesus was ever crucified, He spoke often with His disciples of His future return. Through many parables and direct words of warning, Jesus wanted there to be no mistaking what was to come. While Jesus was born into a humble family; sojourned through the land teaching, preaching, and healing with no place to call home; demonstrated gratuitous patience to the ragamuffin group of followers He collected along the way; and in meekness allowed Himself to be arrested, tried, and executed; Jesus would return as the Triumphant King. Time and again, Jesus warned that at His return there will be no escape; all people will be called into account for how they spent their time on the earth.
The return of the King will be a terrible day of Judgement for those who don’t know Jesus, but it will also be a day of shame and guilt for those who do know Him but have not abided in Him as they should. 1 Corinthians 3:15 cautions that on the day of judgement Christians who choose to live for themselves rather than living for God “will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” While this message may come across as unnecessarily alarming, it is not one intended to scare us into obedience as much as to open our eyes to the true consequences of our actions. If we know that He is righteous and we live our lives intentionally practicing righteousness in His power and in light of His commands, then shame will be replaced with confidence when He returns or calls us home.
At my birthday party I misunderstood the concerned words of my loved ones, choosing to believe that my best option was to run and hide rather than face the scorn that awaited me. In reality, the only punishment was missing out on the rest of my own party while wracked with unwarranted shame. Through faith in Jesus, by being born of Him into His everlasting family, we are all called to a life of eternal purpose and significance that far surpasses anything and everything we could ever imagine. The best part is that we don’t have to wait until someday way off in the future, but He invites us to get in on this great offer today! Don’t mistake His loving invitation as a pronouncement of condemnation. He wants nothing more than our ultimate good.
Prayer for Today:
Heavenly Father, even as You have graciously invited us to be a part of Your kingdom here and now, our natural response is to run and hide. Help us to know that You are not a harsh master but a loving Father. Forgive us for misunderstanding and misrepresenting Your offer of grace and life. We confess that we have sinned, at times far more than we care to admit, but we also confess that our hope is not in our perfect obedience, but in Jesus’ perfect righteousness. We ask that You would come and find us in our darkest moments, that we might know the light of Your truth. We ask this in the name of Your perfect Son, Amen.