“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” 1 John 4: 1-6
It’s early Sunday morning. I just finished changing sheets, diaper and jammies in my daughter’s crib. I tucked her back in with fresh dry blankets and gave her some milk. I made myself a cup of tea and decided that my extra early morning time would be best spent in front of the blinking cursor. Most days, I’d be irritated about being woken early, but today I was truly grateful to be able to serve my child. Little Ruby Mae had an accident yesterday. Some jumping fun with bubble wrap turned into a “big idea.” While I was sifting through Christmas boxes in the basement Miss Ruby rode her sheet of bubble wrap down our basement stairs like a sled. One loud crash and a shriek later, we were on our way to the hospital. The ER staff treated her with kindness and love. They tried to hide their smiles when she finally admitted to all of us that she had planned this little escapade and executed when Mommy was out of sight. We were driving home when I heard the tiniest voice from the backseat, “I sowwy Mommy.”
If you’ve met Ruby Mae, you know she is just about the spiciest little human that ever graced this earth. She does it her way…all day. She also has a deeply rooted love for Jesus Christ. If you’re lucky you’ll catch her singing The B-i-b-l-e to her babies as she puts them in their bed. On her way out of Little Jewels daycare she’ll whisper goodbye to the baby Jesus statue that stands by the door. Although she challenges me each and every day with her strong will, fierce independence and fearless spirit, I see our heavenly Father in her. Pastor Mike tells us time and time again, “If you want to know how to raise your kids as Christ followers; come to church every week and eat dinner together as a family.” Lynden and I are learning that this little piece of advice is worth more than any other we’ve received.
The purpose of John’s writings in this chapter is to reassure Christian’s in their faith and to counter false teachings. By the time this letter was written John was an older man and the only surviving apostle. The last eyewitness of Christ, John wrote authoritatively to give the new generation of believers confidence in their faith in God. In today’s scripture he encourages us to “test the spirits” in our life. He warns us that evil has come into our world already. And then he says this:
“…Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
This Christmas season is full of false prophets and messages cloaked in the false promise of being from God. When I read John’s words this morning, I’m encouraged. He reminds us that we know how to recognize the people and the words and the places in our community that are for Christ.
“By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
In the next twenty days, we’ll have thousands of Christmas opportunities. Jesus will invite us to sit down with him, to pull our children close and celebrate the message of His birth. Are we going to take those opportunities to bring our family to church to show them that we are truly from God? Or are we going to choose the false teachers? Are we going to choose the promise of the iPhone 7, the cordless drill or the almighty Lego? It sounds so simple when you hear it from John. Choose the Spirit of God, just do it! It’s in all of our hearts but the power of the antichrist is strong and persuasive. Satan is crafty. He knows how to distract us with shiny things! Let us be reassured though. Like children, we fall down. We think that we can really stand on bubble wrap and slide down that staircase mountain without getting hurt. When we emerge, bloody and bruised He picks us up. As I care for Ruby’s little black eye, change her wet diaper and wrap her in fresh blankets, I’m giving thanks for her pure spirit. I’m resisting the temptation to click on the blinking photo of those boots I want so badly that was expertly placed on the webpage that holds our scriptures today. I don’t need furry boots, I need the spirit of Christ. There is no sled that can get us down the rocky mountain safely, only Jesus can protect us.
“…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us…”
Ruby Mae after her staircase sledding day: