Daily Devotions

An Advocate Rather Than an Adversary

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Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18)

 

As a child of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, my imagination was enamored by the Satanic scares of the period. There were movies like Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, etc. I watched anything Satanic every chance I’d get. I didn’t get any chances at my house, because my mother believed, rightfully, that my young mind should not be filled with that corruption. But I was an intelligent and manipulative pre-teen and teenager and always had friends whose parents were less diligent in their child’s viewing habits, and it was there that I got my Satan movie fix.

 

The antichrist was very real in my pre- and early-adolescent life. But, even more than movies, it was the Church that gave power to the antichrist. It was adult leaders who showed us documentary-type movies in youth groups, warning of young people - like ourselves - who were carried away by Devil worshipers. They even showed us a program on “cult deprogrammers” who would work to reclaim the soul of some poor slob too caught up in the grip of the Devil. Mind you, I was Presbyterian. Can you imagine if I was in one of those holy roller churches?

 

Sadly, these well-meaning church youth leaders had a flawed understanding of the antichrist. The antichrist is without any real supremacy accept that which we give it, through our own warped imagination. Martin Luther in the early sixteenth century called the Pope the antichrist. Other church leaders throughout the centuries have called dictators, false theologians, and those they believe are defying God’s law, antichrists. Antichrists were humans who where acting in a way against the will of the one true God.

 

The word “antichrist” only appears in the NRSV version of the Bible in just four places: Here, in 1 John 2:18 and again in 2:22; 1 John 4:3; and, in 2 John 1:7. There are other words for the Devil that are used in Revelation etc., but the word “antichrist” is almost never used. The definition for the word “antichrist,” according to the Analytical Greek Lexicon, is “Christ’s adversary in the end-times.”

 

By that definition, any one of us who sins, is an antichrist. Rather than focus on the Devil, it is important that we focus on teaching “Children” to be Christ’s advocates, rather than Christ’s “adversary.” Rather than empowering Satan in the minds of imaginative children, we should accept the call to teach our children the joy of Christ’s power over evil, sin, and death. Christ’s light is the true power, and nothing else can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It Ain't the Priority

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Do not love the world or the things in the world. (1 John 2:15)

This isn’t a call to leave your home and family and move up to the mountaintop and start a commune. This is about what we are committed to in this eternal life of ours. When this world is too comfortable, we can find God’s call intrusive, or worse, unnecessary. We must remain self- aware, so that in the midst of the ups and downs of this world, we do not forget our long-term opportunity.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are placed on this earth to honor God through our lives and faith life. This faith life includes worshipping God weekly, daily prayer, living a life of integrity, and should include the care of others. This commitment does not preclude striving for material success, but it does require us to keep our priorities in their proper order. Our goals should be primarily focused on the extra long-term.

This really isn’t about bashing the wealthy. I’ve known some amazingly faithful people who are well off, and do not let it run their lives, or give them a sense of inflated self-worth. I’ve also known people who have striven for wealth their whole life, enriching their ego, as well as their pocketbook. A shallow soul cannot be filled, no matter the fortune offered.

Finally, remember that wealth is relative. There are always more people in this world thinking you are rich, even while you may think of yourself as poor. A strong spiritual life includes learning to appreciate what you have, and learning to compassionately see the needs of those around you.

 

Today, pray for God to ease your need for approval. Ask God to bring clarity to your life. The more we see our rightful place in this world, the more appreciative we become. The more appreciative, the more we see the hand of God at work in us. Ask God for the wisdom to learn our place in this world, and in our life eternal. Appreciate what God has given you, and then think about the ways you can use it to affirm your faith and care for the faith of others. Wealth ain’t bad, but it also ain’t the priority.

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