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November 24 | 1 John 2:24-29

DAILY READING:


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REFLECTION


Faithful to the Beginning

by Karen Burkhart


When I was a kid, few party games could ignite laughter quite like a round of “telephone.” Unlike phone games today, there were no apps to download and nothing to hold; all that was needed was a group of children and a little imagination. One person would set the game in motion by coming up with a short message, the funnier the better, and whispering it into the ear of his or her neighbor. Then that person would deliver the message to their neighbor, and so on, until everyone in the circle had received the message. Finally, the last person had to share out loud what they had heard. By this time, the message was almost always so twisted that everyone was guffawing, trying to figure out where it fell apart. Sometimes it was obvious that someone had intentionally changed the message just for kicks, but more often than not, the message changed incrementally, a syllable or word at a time. Though not the point, the game taught us all an invaluable lesson: how messages can and often do, change over time.


In today’s Scripture, the apostle John seems to be aware of this reality of morphing messages as they pass through mouths, minutes, and miles. He reminds his audience to stay faithful to the original message they heard. What is this original message? It is the Gospel—the saving message of Christ’s death for sin and his victory over death. John tells his audience that remaining faithful to the Gospel is the only way to remain in fellowship with Jesus and the Father and receive eternal life as promised. It sounds like staying faithful to the Gospel is of utmost importance.


So, what does it mean to remain faithful to the Gospel? At the very least, it means to not accept additions or subtractions to it. Any message that denies Christ’s sinless perfection isn’t the Gospel. Any message that says you need to earn your place in heaven isn’t the Gospel. Any message that says there is no hell, isn’t the Gospel. I could go on and on with examples of false gospels I see or hear daily flooding the airwaves or my social media feeds. It therefore seems especially pertinent today to remind ourselves that we simply cannot blindly accept every message we hear, even from those claiming spiritual authority. We must constantly compare everything against the true Gospel. That true Gospel is found in the Word of God and illuminated by the Holy Spirit of God who abides within every believer in Christ. Neither will ever contradict nor lead us astray.


Next time you hear a gospel claim that doesn’t sound right, consider the possibility that something has gotten lost in translation, whether intentionally or not. Remember, just like in the game of telephone, even well-intentioned messengers can be sincerely wrong. Go back to the beginning and revisit the beautiful, timeless, perfect, message of the Gospel. Better yet, don't just visit the beginning, live there! The more faithful we are to the beginning, the sooner we will recognize deviations to the Gospel message and stop the spread. Eternity is on the line.


 

Dear Father, thank you for the perfect message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is told cover to cover of Your Holy Word and illuminated by Your Holy Spirit that dwells in me by grace through faith. Help me to remain faithful to Christ and to You and not be led astray by false teachers or novel ideas about who You are or Your plan of salvation. No one will ever be able to improve upon the story You have already written in the blood of the Lamb. Amen.



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