This morning four ladies gathered here in my living room for week two of our study of I John 1,2&3.
After having some snacks and getting our coffee, we moved to the living room where we talked through some of the questions we answered during the week. I loved hearing some of their thoughts and ideas around what we studied in our homework. Most notably was our discussion around confession of sins to God and to one another. If God already knows our sins, what’s the big deal in confessing them? That conversation transitioned into our fellowship with others and what hinders us from moving beyond surface friendship especially within the church. Such rich conversation!
I remembered a silly analogy, but a helpful one around this topic. Suppose it’s a sin to eat chocolate ice cream, but vanilla is perfectly acceptable. Now I love vanilla and always have. It’s by far my favorite. I’m not even tempted to have chocolate. So when Susy-Q gets chocolate ice cream every other week, I am quick to judge her. “Why can’t she just pick vanilla? It’s clearly the right choice. It’s obviously the better choice. I don’t even know what she sees in chocolate ice cream. It’s a shame really how she has no control.”
All the while, I have never even once been tempted by chocolate ice cream. My compassion for her is at zero. And that is the true shame.
This could apply to any sin. Could it be that the particular sin I’m so sickened by that YOU are involved in is not a problem for me or a temptation for me because of the type of family I was raised in, which was not my own doing at all. And why is it that when I sin, I am quick to give myself all the benefits of the doubt because I seem to think I’m more deserving of patience or grace because my sins aren’t that bad or aren’t too “out there.”
I can move towards more genuine and deep friendships if I’m willing to listen with humility and graciousness when someone shares something their struggling with. And I can share more freely if I realize how much God loves me and forgives me and cleanses me. We need each other! Sometimes we need to go first; other times we need to be the safe place for someone to confess and ask for prayer. But we can be guaranteed shallow friendships if no one is willing to be vulnerable. It takes all of us showing up filled with the Spirit and aware of our own need for God’s Grace and forgiveness in order for true fellowship to happen.
Jen Wilkin’s teaching was so good. She mentioned the scene in Elf where Buddy the Elf hears about Santa coming to the mall, and he yells, “SANTA!!!!! I know him!!!!!” And John is writing to a group of churches in Ephesus filled with people who did not meet Jesus face to face or hear His teachings with their win ears, so he is telling them, “JESUS is eternal life. I KNOW HIM!!!! I saw Him. I touched Him. I heard Him. And I’m gonna tell you all about Him.” I was challenged to examine if and how I am being a witness to Christ in this broken world. And how can I be an advocate for others through prayer? Who needs me to pray for them and am I serious about those prayers?
Another nugget that was so good was about light. John wrote using the contrast between light and darkness and clearly states that in Jesus there is no darkness at all. Jen spoke of a paver in her garden that got flipped over and what was under that paver was lots of icky creatures that had been hiding in the dark. Light exposes. And light also helps things to grow. Am I letting the light of God’s Word and His spirit guide me and shine on my heart anything that needs to be exposed? And am I seeing growth in my life as a result of walking with Jesus? I should!
I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”❤️
My statement for the week that Jen asks us to fill out is:
“Knowing that God is faithful and forgiving shows me that I am selfish and a justifier of my sin when I should be a confessor and repenter of my sins.”
This week I want to pray and ask God to help me be more grateful for His sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for my sins and not use His grace as an easy out to give in to my flesh. Jesus died for me to have access to God, and He continues to be my Advocate. That’s amazing truth to think about; it should cause me to live differently.
This was a little all over the place but I wanted to get down my thoughts before moving on to week 3.😊😊