Think About It

thinking, please wait
Photo credit: <a href="">Karola Riegler</a>

1 John 1:1 – 2:2

We announce the origin of things to you. What we heard. What we witnessed with our own eyes. What we examined and touched with our own hands. It’s about life. Life that was revealed, that we’ve seen. We swear to it, and we tell you that life forever with the father was made known to us. And we’re telling you what we’ve seen and heard so you, too, can be together with us. Surely, we’re together with the father and with his son, Jesus. We’re writing this so our joy may be complete.

Here’s the message we got from Jesus and pass on to you:

God is light. There is nothing whatsoever dark about God.

If we say we’re with God while hiding our conduct in the dark, we’re lying. Our actions are false. But if we conduct ourselves in the light full disclosure, we’re together, and Jesus’ blood will take care of whatever’s wrong.

If we say nothing’s wrong, we’re fooling ourselves. We’re lying. If we admit to what is wrong, Jesus’ commitment to fairness will forgive us and make us right again.

If we say there’s nothing wrong, though, we make Jesus out to be a liar. We’ve missed the point.

My little children, I’m writing these things so you won’t continue to mess up. But, if anyone does mess up, we have someone to help us patch things up with God: Jesus. He’s a righteous dude, and he’s laid it all on the line to make things right with us again. And not just for us, but for absolutely everyone.

[See also, previous comments on 1:1-4 (Troubled Community), 1:5-10 (Confession), and 2:1-6 (You Can Do It).]

Anyone who is familiar with 12-step programs such as AA can tell you that the first step to getting your life back on track is admitting that you have a problem.

John’s first letter is about your first step. Life is to be had, and had in abundance and great joy, but first you have to take care of a few problems. Fortunately, says John, Jesus has offered to mentor us so that we can get through the problems and on to life.

With John, it’s a take it or leave it proposition. Here’s an offer. The decision is yours. The help is free, and it’s available for everyone, but you have to want to work the system.

Maybe you think don’t need it, John says. But you’re probably just fooling yourself if you think you can make it on your own.

So think about it.

1, 2 & 3 John Is Ready for Download

1, 2 & 3 John CoverIf you want to judge a book by it’s cover, I think you will find the latest addition to the Scarlet Letter Bible’s New Testament downloads takes the prize, hands down.

In the two months since the release of Mark’s Gospel, Apple released iBooks Author, which as far as I’m concerned, changed the whole picture for digital book publishing. If you have an iPad, the new format is a real treat. The PDF and old iBook formats are also a lot slicker, thanks to the new editing software.

The text itself is the scarlet rendition of 1, 2 & 3 John, as found scattered throughout posts on the Scarlet Letter Bible over the last 4 months.

Pick your format from the downloads page.


Don’t Let Religion Be Your Idol

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Image credit: <a href="">Patty</a>

1 John 5:18-21

We know that God’s children don’t do wrong. The firstborn child protects them, so the devil can’t touch them. We know that we’re God’s children, and the whole world remains in the devil’s grip. We know that Jesus has come, that he has given us understanding of what God is really like. We live in that understanding by being true to Jesus. This is God. This is life. Kids, stay away from idols.

“The Devil made me do it,” is no excuse. If the devil made you do it, if you couldn’t help yourself, so far as John is concerned, you’re to blame. John doesn’t know anything about the power of addiction, though. Or if he does, he’d say that it was the devil, and what you need isn’t treatment, but conversion.

People today still use conversion as treatment. Christian “recovery programs” offer relief from all kinds of troubles and so-called ills: alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, poverty, homosexuality. Insofar as they work, though, it’s by substituting a religious addiction for whatever other addition is being treated, often with a toxic dose of guilt and punishment added into the mix. But let the wind blow just a little bit, and the whole house of cards falls down. A crack in some seemingly unrelated doctrine sinks the whole ship of faith, and with it the “miraculous recovery” of those who depend on it.

Faith can be a powerful force for those who embrace it as a way of life. Just beware of letting it become an idol.

Little Sins, Big Sins

avalanche sign
Photo credit: <a href="">Paul Downey</a>

1 John 5:13-17

I’m writing to you who’ve embraced Jesus, God’s child, so you’ll know that life is forever yours. It’s a confidence that comes from being related to God. If we ask for anything, God hears, and we have confidence that God will provide.

If you see a brother or sister committing an infraction – one that’s not lethal – pray for him or her. God will restore life to those whose infractions aren’t lethal. There are lethal errors, though, and I’m not talking about praying for those. Any unjust action is an infraction, but not all infractions are lethal.

Some like to say that “a sin is a sin is a sin,” and “whose to say one sin is worse than another?”

John’s letter implies that not all sin is equal. Not all violations of justice are the same, John says, because there is a difference in how much harm is done. Some, in fact, are lethal. Some are possible to overcome by prayer (but see that John has also defined prayer as action). Others, John thinks, are beyond hope.

Perhaps one of the worst kinds of mistakes is mixing up which kind of sin is which. Some people (and some churches) make mountains out of molehills, while ignoring much more serious matters. Perhaps it’s because it’s easier to focus on molehills than to climb mountains. Still, nobody ever died of a molehill. People do die in avalanches.