Hamilton Presbyterian Church
8 January, 2023 TOD
1 John 2:28–3:10NIV2011
- Praise the Lord, you heavens, adore Him!
- The Perfect Wisdom Of Our God
- Sing to God New Songs of Worship
- Family Matters!Families are important!Right at the very beginning God took one woman and brought her to the man and commanded them to fill the earth and subdue it.For thousands of years the family has been considered the basic unit of society.It is the family that is the first to provide life support to the new born and bind the child into a social group.It is the family that is the setting for our growing up, and in the normal course of events… marriage, child rearing…and along the way we forge some of our most significant human attachments…and endure some of our most significant conflicts.It is in participation in family that we learn basic skills, morals and values that will stick with us through life.Michael Novak, an American Roman Catholic philosopher, journalist, novelist and diplomat said, “The family is the first, best and original Department of Health, Education and Welfare.”But the traditional concept of family is being challenged, changed… some would say destroyed… before our very eyes.Last week I found a series to watch on TV that looked interesting. Started it playing… and within 5 minutes the scene changed to two men in their 30’s wandering around their flat in their underwear. I looked at Margaret… is this… and before we could back out they were kissing each other.What is the church to do in the face of all these changes?We can point our finger and rouse… and there may well be a time and place for that.But I think there is something a whole lot more positive, something a whole lot more proactive… and maybe even more effective that we can do.John’s message for us this morning about Christians as God’s kid’s sets us thinking.In the 12 verses we are looking at this morning, John, in various contexts, refers to children 6 times.2:28 dear children… 3:1 children of God… 2 children of God… 7 dear children, 10 children of God and children of the devil.10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.So as the traditional concept of family is under challenge and threat… let’s take a moment to consider the local church as the family of a heavenly Father, with an older brother who is like us but O so much more than us, calling us (the church) to live a higher order of family life as a foil and clear contrast to the disintegration of family in the world around us.Would we consider the call of God for his family, the church, to be the new and better Department of Health, Education and Welfare?Would we hear the call of God for his family, the church to bind individuals to the church for their new social group where individuals can grow up, marry, and teach the next generation skills, morals and values that will help us and them be better people and produce a better society in which to live?Now… make no mistake… the community of God is a wonderful, wonderful family in which to belong… but the Father, our older Brother and the Spirit of this family are quite insistent on participants taking on the family likeness.Belonging to this family is not a part time study to be pursued when we have the time.Belonging to this family is not a hobby to pick up when other things fall slack.Belonging to this family means waking up in this family; and being sent out into the world by the Father with a cheery “Don’t forget you’ve taken the name of my dearly beloved Son. Honour Him in all you do today.”Taking on the Family Likeness, v6-10Just have a quick look at the way John says just that in these 12 verses we’re looking at this morning.6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.1 Jn 3:8-10 “8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, ... 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin,.... because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. ...10 Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”John is relentless!Something I have noticed over these last few weeks is about the way John writes… for John everything seems to be either white… or black.It’s either day or night.It’s either love... or it’s hate,it’s either truth... or it’s lies.There are no shades of grey with John.Here he says that if we belong to this family… we don’t keep on sinning.1 Jn 2:29 “29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.”1 Jn 3:7 “7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.”If the Father and the Son are teetotallers and they bring a drunk into the family… they will learn to love the morals and values of the family.If the Father and the Son are full of truth and grace… the children will learn to speak truthfully and graciously.Verse 9 though assumes that everyone does the wrong thing.Everyone at one time or other does the things of the devil… be it lying or gossiping or or saying they’ll do something then not ever getting around to doing it… but be aware, v8, that Jesus came to destroy that behaviour because it is contrary to the families morals and values.But if a person claims to be a member of God’s family but keeps on doing those things one must question which family they belong to.In the end John cuts through all the rhetoric and asks the question: Do you do what is right according to the family values and love other family members?So it sounds like it’s going to be a real challenge taking our part in this family!The rules are clear.. but the expectations are high.If a person belongs to this family, they are expected to take on the family morals and values.But THIS Family likeness? Really! How?That’s one thing when your family is a middle class Aussie family that promotes the value of honesty…but has seen both mum and dad at times talk badly about people behind their backs…and who knows full well that sometimes mum and dad’s relationship is pretty good…but sometimes the air is frosty and words are few.What about when your Father is the infinitely holy Creator God of the universe who is light and in whom there is no darkness at all?What about when our older Brother demonstrated his love for us by leaving the worship and adoration of angels at the side of the Father to come and embrace Calvary for the good of the family?Well, John says that far from frightening us away, it is just those truths about the family of origin that will be instrumental in taking our place in the family.Children is mentioned 5 times in these 12 verses; 4 times positively as God’s children and once negatively as children of the devil.So also the appearance of our older brother Jesus is mentioned four times in these 12 verses.Our Brother’s appearancesLet’s start with the last two first.1 Jn 3:5 “5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.”1 Jn 3:8 “8b… The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”At first it seems paradoxical that God would adopt what might colloquially be called “rotters” into his family!The community of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are such a community of love and affection, holiness and justice, honesty and grace… we might think that they would only want the best, the cream of the crop, in their family.But God has taken it upon himself to adopt people from every class, race, age, ethnicity not basing his love on anything in anyone.His love for his children comes from within himself.He loves his children because he is love… not because his children are lovely.Indeed we are not lovely in his eyes… any of us…Everyone has fallen short of his standard, so anyone can avail themselves of the work Jesus did and come into the family.Paul… 1 Tim 1:16 “16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”In his love for sinners, underserving of his love that Jesus appeared on earth to destroy the devil’s work… in part by taking away our sins… so that he could enter back into relationship with us.That’s Good News!But there’s another aspect to Jesus’ appearances that is equally encouraging.1 Jn 2:28 “28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”1 Jn 3:2 “2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”Our older brother, Jesus, is one day going to return to earth and finish the work of making planet earth into a perfect holy place where God and man can dwell together for ever in perfect holiness, righteousness and joy forever.I saw former US President Bill Clinton the other day lamenting how fast his life is flying by. He can’t believe how much there is to do and see… but he’s run out of life with which to do it. And that’s a man who’s been the US President!I feel the same. Why go to another parish? Why not retire, travel, see the sites?It has a certain attraction… but I keep reminding myself that Jesus is going to return, banish all evil and rebellion… raise the bodies of his people so we shall be like him… and join heaven and earth together so God and his people can be together and explore creation forever.Is that amazing!The Father’s lavish love!John begins v1 by saying 1 Jn 3:1 “1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”1 Jn 4:9-10 “9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”God’s people, you and me, are love-lavished children of the Father and brother’s of the son. It is by faith, not by sight… yet!But the fullness is coming when Jesus returns.Nevertheless… we are loved because the Father is love and because the Son has appeared.Enjoy it; contemplate it; ponder it…Don’t get up every morning and TRY to be in this family.Get up every morning and thank God that because of Jesus appearing you ARE in this family… and live in the Father’s lavish love for you!God’s family - Living out and instilling God’s morals and values in the next generation.So as my final words in a sermon after maybe 500 sermons can I leave you with this thought…Will this church community embrace the challenge to be a living, loving demonstration of true family life in the Kingdom of God?Providing life support to the new born… new born-again.Will this church be God’s family providing loving relationships for people to grow up, form significant human attachments, negotiate family squabbles and conflict… take on the family likeness… and pass it on to others?That will mean categorically rejecting the increasingly destructive patterns of family witnessed in the media and in the world…That will mean consciously living in the love the Father has lavished on us through the first appearance of Jesus on earthand not being ashamed when he reappears and makes us like him.Complete; whole, satisfied and an eternity of exploring, experiencing, enjoying, loving and relishing everything this new family brought to us… forever.
- Holy Spirit Living Breath of God
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