Antichrist. The second I read that word, my mind immediately flies back to the eighth grade. I was gobbling down novels about the end times. News articles about wars around the world, disease and famine, not to mention the imminent emergence of the Euro, that gateway to a one-world currency, captured my imagination. Who was the antichrist? The president? The secretary of state? The Secretary-General of the UN? Most definitely the latter.
In 1 John 2:18-28, the writer does not a singular evil individual in mind, a solitary wicked mastermind set on doing battle against God. In fact, the writer implicitly debunks that idea altogether by making clear that there are many antichrists defined as people who have rejected the truth, specifically the truth that Jesus is Lord. To deny Jesus is to deny God the Father.
In my youthful fascination with the concept of a singular antichrist, I often felt afraid of whoever this evil person might be, but at least the enemy was clear. There was a comfort in knowing he(and his followers) was the bad guy and I was the good guy. But in this passage, that comfort is stripped away. The author makes clear that anyone can be an antichrist. Anyone can reject the lordship of Jesus. Anyone who denies Christ as the Messiah, the Anointed One of God sent to rescue all of Creation, is antichrist.
Our challenge? “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” (vs. 24). Allow the truth that Jesus is Lord to take root in your heart. This truth alone binds us to God. If we persist, we will experience “eternal life.” In the same way we have wrongly associated the term antichrist exclusively with a singular figure rebelling against God, we often wrongly associate the term “eternal life” as signifying a bodiless existence somewhere away in the sky after we die. But again, there is more at work than we see. Eternal life is better translated as “life of the age,” meaning life of coming Kingdom of God. That like, life that is reflective of God’s in-breaking Kingdom, begins now as we persist in trusting obedience.
This text challenges us to persevere in faithfulness, both in belief and practice, and lean into the life shaped by the Kingdom of God now, as we await the return of Creation’s true King.
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Grace and Peace.