I read recently about a community that was deeply divided. Their division was not superficial—they did not agree on the most important things. Even though they lived near to one another and, in some cases, they once worshiped together, groups of people began to believe different things and they quickly grew apart. Those who strayed initially began to lead other people astray. It didn’t take long for a wise elder in a local church to see the danger around him, so he wrote a letter of encouragement, but also of warning to members of his own church and he sent it to nearby churches as well. In the letter he told the people what was true about Jesus and how to identify false teaching and, in many cases, how to diagnose their own spiritual condition.
The churches in trouble were around the Asian city of Ephesus, the time period was near the end of the first century, and the wise elder was the Apostle John—a witness to the life of Jesus Christ. We have the letter he wrote near the back of our Bibles. It’s typically called the First Letter of John and it is an invaluable gift from God to Christians everywhere. The purpose of the letter is to reassure Christians of true doctrine and show how right belief leads to faithful living and devotion. As a church, we are going to dedicate the next few months to studying and applying it together. I hope you will be in church this Sunday to kick off the fall and begin our new series in 1 John. I am praying that it molds us as people and shapes us as a Christ-centered community.
Be there this Sunday and bring a friend!