1 John 4:5-6
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
This passage speaks directly to one of the deepest struggles of today’s Christian church. We think, act and speak too much like the world and not enough like Jesus. In part, the church has intentionally tried to look like the world out of a desire to be accepted by the culture or to be viewed as cool or sophisticated. Then again, we have also given in too often to the temptations of wealth and power. The result for the modern church has been lukewarm acceptance from the world coupled with shallow, fruitless faith. The unbelieving world will never fully embrace those who believe that Jesus died and rose again, and the church will never be fully faithful if we covet the world’s embrace.
John, of course, wrote these words nearly 2,000 years ago during the first generation of the church, and he understood even then that there will always be a division in thought between those who listen to God and those who reject God’s truth. The unbelieving world doesn’t follow Jesus’ teaching because they don’t believe He is worth listening to. In the same way, followers of Jesus shouldn’t adhere to the ways of the world because we know that God’s ways are better. We choose the Spirit of truth over the spirit of falsehood, but those who haven’t yet come to faith don’t know there is a better way to think and live. We desire that all people will accept Jesus as Savior and join us in seeking to honor God, and our mission is to lead unbelievers to Christ, not to make the church like the world.
For each of us, the challenge is clear. Stop imitating the world, and start imitating Christ. Stop seeking approval from those who reject the truth, and start honoring Jesus even if the world calls us foolish. Jesus once said that we can’t serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). In the same way, we can’t follow Jesus while also desiring the world’s praise. We listen to God and to the Spirit of truth, and that keeps us on the path God says is best.
Father in Heaven, I rejoice in Your goodness and glory. Thank You for revealing Your truth in Your word and for helping me to follow Jesus. Keep me from the temptations of this world, and show me how to honor the name of Jesus in all I do. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian