1 John P2R, Week 15

In this week’s passage of 1 John we are continuing in the theme of love, with the addition of abiding: God abiding in us, and we abiding in him. This segues into knowing, which leads to seeing and testifying “that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” We then curve back to confession and abiding, which will lead full circle back to love in next week’s passage. And so, this week we have more of a train of thought, even though it circles back to love, rather than a tight spiral of one thought. Continue reading “1 John P2R, Week 15”

1 John P2R, week 11

Coming off a long hiatus from memorizing makes for a bumpy re-entry. Restoring this discipline to its place in my daily routine has been easier than reminding my brain what we’re doing. However, my efforts at discipline and my rusty brain aren’t the only players in this scheme. The Holy Spirit is helping me, and he will help you as well, to hide God’s word in our hearts.

Week 10 ended with the reminder that loving one another is the message we have heard from the beginning, which gives us a solid tether to week 11 starting with an event that occurred way back at the beginning: Cain’s murder of his brother, Abel. John links murderous intent with hate for one another, just as Jesus equated murder with anger in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21-22). This is a deeper layer of the contrasts John has been using all through his epistle. Love for one another is life-giving; hate for one another is life-taking. Continuing the theme of children of God and children of the devil, John makes his case that children of the devil not only keep on sinning, but, like Cain, they hate those who are righteous with a murderous hatred. Continue reading “1 John P2R, week 11”

Closer Than a Sister, Week 1

 

By STEFANIE BENNETT|CONTRIBUTOR

 

Week 1: Closer Than a Sister, Part 1: Chapters 1-3 (pp. 23-61)

We have many “shoulds” in our lives—

should go to church.

should join a Bible study.

should spend time getting to know other women.

But we have all seen the long-term effects of acting on “shoulds” without having a proper foundation and motivation for doing them—we burn out, give up, or become disillusioned.

The Triune Community

That is why our first session of Christina Fox’s Closer Than a Sister, which covered Part 1 (chapters 1-3), is so purposeful. If we are to seek, serve, and savor Christian community with our sisters, we cannot get there through self-compulsion and “shoulds.” Instead, this desire flows from a woman who relishes God’s design for a life of community as she sees it reflected and perfected in the triune Godhead.

We see from the beginning that the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) “is one of self-giving love, each one delighting in, adoring, honoring, and treasuring one another” likewise “united as one, infinitely dear, and incomprehensible, and mutual eternal love” (Fox, 25; c.f. John 10:30; John 16:13-14; John 17:5, 26). Oh Christian, what a profound community!

The Abiding Community

Perhaps the most beautiful and magnificent reality is that God is complete and content in and of himself, abiding in perfect community from before the foundation of the world. He had no need for us. And yet… oh, how he loves! How he invites us in to such a community by calling us to abide in Him and with his people. It is a profound privilege.

Indeed, abiding in Christ gives us everything we need for life and godliness (cf. John 15:1-6; 2 Peter 1:3). “We receive our spiritual life and health from our union in Christ,” and we must continue to draw from this well-spring if we are to love others in the fulfilling, selfless, life-giving way Christ modeled for us (Fox, 41-42; c.f. John 15:1-6). Abiding in Christ will produce fruitful, fragrant lives of love and fellowship that reflect the very image in which we were created. “As we seek to love and serve our sisters in Christ and they in turn love and serve us, we are living out our union with Christ. We are reflecting the triune community” (Fox).

The Nourished Community

But, Sisters, less we think that this community is held together by our sheer will-power to love and serve, let us continually remind ourselves that Christ is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (c.f. Hebrews 12:2). He is the covenant-initiator and covenant-keeper. Community takes work. We are easily distracted. We are prone to forgetfulness. We forget who we are and whose we are. We forget (or ignore) that we were made for community (Fox). Here, too, our Christ has provided a way, because “the glorious truth of the Gospel is that our union with Christ is not contingent upon our grasp of Christ but of His grasp of us” (Fox, 60). Therefore, our union with Christ nourishes and transforms us to live out our design in the context of community, not just because we have a glorious, perfect example, but also because we continually drink from the living water that compels us to dwell well in the community for which we were made.