The Life Journal readings for today are Jeremiah 33, Jeremiah 34, Psalm 74, and 1 John 5
Scripture: 1 John 5:19 (NIV)
"We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one."
These are the final instructions from the author of 1 John in this letter. He is wrapping up a teaching on the love of God and what it would look like to live within the same. Then he throws this little gem in and keeps going.
"He's got the whole world in his hands..."
How many of us sang that one in vacation bible school as a kid? I remember vividly standing in the front of a small country church in my hometown of Lynnville, and singing that song with the other kids as VBS was wrapping up for the week.
Now, as an adult and a seminary graduate, lines like this one stand out while I'm reading. Part of me would like to just be able to read over them like I used to do, not paying any attention, and checking the "I read my bible today" box so that I can go on about my day.
But I can't. I have to wrestle with things like this. Who is in control? Is it the God who spoke the world into creation? That's what we've always been taught. But...if the author of 1 John is correct, it's the evil one who has everything under control. All one has to do is look around to begin to see that.
This is where the church has to be proactive. For decades we have sat around, brainstorming, trying to come up with catchy little slogans and ideas that will convince folks to come to us; meanwhile the world around us cannot hear the voice of truth because of Clark Griswold screaming, "Look around you Ellen! We're at the threshold of hell!" And for them...it just may be true.
If we are going to call ourselves kingdom builders and disciples makers, then it's time to get off our duffs, get outside, and begin to turn the tide. Ultimately, we know who has the last word...but they don't. If your pastor won't lead you outside the walls, take the lead yourself...get up...get out...and show your community that God really does have everything under control.
O God of all that was, is, and is to come, remind us once again that good triumphs, and that evil does not get the last word. Show us how we can be a source of hope for those who are standing at the gates of their own personal hell. Teach us to go to where the hurt is just as you did all those centuries ago so that hope and peace begin to replace fear and doubt. Amen