There is a pressing urgency to the scripture we have received this morning from the Apostle John. He warns us that “this is the last hour” and not only that, but the arrival of the anti-Christ is “imminent”, and in fact, not one, but many anti-Christs have appeared!
What are we to make of this?
The last hour that the Apostle John speaks of is not the destruction of the planet, but of the immediacy of the judgment of God, a judgment that is not experienced as something deferred until after the Christian is dead, but is happening right now.
Judgment is pronounced on all of us in accord with the demand of love.
How will we meet the demand of love as it presents itself to us? This demand will not happen in accord with our plans and on our terms and our response to that demand of love will be the true measure of our faith in the Lord Jesus. It is easy to pay lip service to being a disciple of the Lord Jesus, but the truth of our relationship with Christ is not akin to being a member of a club, but of being in a real relationship with him.
And a real relationship means real demands in terms of who we are and what we do. If fulfilling the demand of love is our primary concern then our lives will change to conform to that demand. But will we? In this we are judged and that judgment will be the revelation of our truth.
When the demand of love is presented to me, what will I do? Am I prepared to do what Christ asks of me in that moment? How have I prepared myself for this moment?
Who are these anti-Christ’s with which we must contend and must oppose?
What the Apostle has in mind is not the anti-Christ of fiction and film, but those powers that we accord with the status of ultimacy in our lives- our desires; desires for wealth, pleasure, power and honors. The antichrists reveal themselves in the elevation of the political, the cultural, the economic to a place in our lives that should only properly belong to Christ.
Look at all the characteristics of worldliness in your life and you will finds your anti-Christs.
Along with the anti-Christ there is always an anti-Church. The anti-Church happens when the Church becomes nothing more than a club that serves our own interests or as means unto our own ends.
The most tempting and alluring anti-Christs and anti-Churches are not constructed by the devil, but instead the devil tempts us to make these idols ourselves and we construct out of our refusals of Christ and our resistance to his will for our lives. It seems easier to us to create a simulation of Christ and the Church rather than have to change in order to receive the real Christ and the real Church.
But if we give into this temptation, prefer a simulation of Christ and the Church, rather than the real Christ and the real Church, then we have made the devil our lord and master.
Today’s Gospel brings us to the magnificent prologue to the Gospel of John, in which we hear of Christ, the Eternal Word, God, who takes on flesh and lives a real, human life.
Remember, your faith as a Christian is not simply in the teachings of Jesus, as if he were nothing more than a spiritual guru who offers you self-help advice. Your faith is in the Lord Jesus himself- in his person, in HIM. You believe that the Lord Jesus is God who has become man, and in doing so, offers you much more than advice- he offers you a relationship with him that redeems you, saves you, changes you, transforms you.
Anything less than this is not the Faith in Christ. Anything less than this is not the Faith of the Church.