Dad’s give some pretty interesting advice.However, my dad never gave me tons of advice unless I asked for it.
Like I remember being 12 and telling my dad I was going to go jump off a horse trailer - because you know, thats what 12 year old boys do for fun when they live in a small town (Crescent, OK only has a population of 1,300)! So, I told him my plan to fly for a few seconds, and he didn't question me that much, but just wished me luck.
I set off, determined to experience flight for a few beautiful seconds. As I climbed that brown, rusted, manure smelling horse trailer I knew the feeling of falling was going to be magnificent! So there I stood, as spiderman would on top of a skyscraper, gazing over this wonderful new height that I was about to conquer (I was 12, give me a break)!
I took two steps back… then leaped as far as I could, limps flailing every direction!… It was amazing! I was a superhero for two seconds!…
Now, what I didn't noticed before I jumped, was this hidden patch of stickers and thorns waiting to greet my fall.
The two most beautiful seconds of my life were followed by hours of absolute misery! I spent the next week picking out stickers and thorns from my hands, knees, elbows, and neck! It was horrible.
I wish my dad had given me more advice in that moment, but some lessons are better learned the hard way… like jumping off horse trailers into thorns - now I know not to do that! Lesson learned!
But one thing my dad always gave me great advice on, and always told me, was to never settle.
He always asked me, “Whats wrong? Girl problems?”, which was followed by me always replying, “I wish, but theres no girls to have problems with! We basically live in a village!” And he always followed that up with, “Good! You never want to marry the wrong girl! Don't settle for number 2, which often comes right before number 1.”
He was always trying to tell me, “Never settle.”
Recently, I’ve been doing a study through the book of 1 John and I really believe John was trying to communicate the same thing my dad was, “never settle.”
From what we can tell, John wrote this later in life, as an old man. We think that he died just a few years after writing 1, 2, and 3 John. So John, like a dad, like a grandpa really, is giving advice and shooting straight with it.
John wrote this letter as a circular letter, meaning it went to multiple churches and places. And what he seems to be addressing, is these people that we’re leaving the church.
They weren't leaving for the reason you’re thinking. Not because they don't believe in Jesus or mad at people in the church, but because the church, they claimed, wasn't “spiritual” enough.
So, these people we’re getting into this thinking that Jesus and the Cross was kinda Christianity 101, but that there was other, bigger, more spiritual things out there to experience. They wanted more. They wanted visions, and trances, and to name their angels, and some sort of ultra spiritual experience. They thought Jesus was cool and all, but that He was more of the “starter pack” to Christianity.
In the book of 1 John, one out of every 3 verses has the word “love” in it, or a derivative of love. Love is the thing on John’s mind when he's writing this.
This dude just comes out the gate shooting. He gives like no introduction. Like a grandpa, out of love, brings some much needed correction.
Now, imagine with me how John must see this issue. I mean, this is John! The disciple whom Jesus loved! The one, who at times, would even lean against Jesus. Who has seen Jesus raise the dead, heal the sick, die, come back to life! Who was with Jesus wherever He went for 3 and a half years! This is Jesus’ BFF! If there was any person on the planet that knew Jesus, it was John!
So, here are these people are taking Jesus and saying, “yeah he’s cool.. but he’s not everything”. Really what they’re doing is they’re taking Jesus and Christianity and making it not about a friendship with Jesus, but about religion, and experience, and who can be the most spiritual, and who has the most profound thing to say. They turned it into some sort of social club.
John comes at them writing with this urgency saying…
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—“
1 John 1:1
He’s telling us - “Hold up! I know him! I’ve seen him! I’ve touched him! I know Jesus! I’ve been with him.”
If you asked me about my dad I would never say, “well my dad is very real to me. I don’t know if you believe in my dad or not, but I believe he’s real.”
I wouldn't defend my dads existence. I would just proclaim who he is. Why? Because I know my dad! I’ve talked with him! I’ve touched him. I’ve lived with him. John is writing with this same tone.
Then we hit verse 3,
“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, SO THAT…”
And thats when everything comes into focus - “SO THAT” -
He’s about to tell us why he’s writing this letter. He’s about to share the point in all of this.
We hit this - “SO THAT” - and immediately my mind starts racing and I'm trying to predict what I think the answer is going to be.
SO THAT we might be forgiven.
SO THAT we might go to heaven.
SO THAT we might be healed.
But listen to what he says - “SO THAT you might have fellowship….”
The best friend of Jesus just bottom-lined ALL of faith.
Wait… What…. That’s it?
I was expecting something more profound, or even more complicated.
But here it is! It all comes down to friendship. With each other and with Jesus. Thats it.
In reading this and studying this, it dawned on me that I have been settling for something less than what christianity really is. I find myself subconsciously and subtly settling without even really knowing about it. I find myself seeking an experience, or a feeling from God, instead of God Himself.
Do you know what I find myself being satisfied with the most? Not fellowship with Jesus, but with the “feeling” that bible knowledge gives me. The feeling that church attendance gives me. I settle for knowledge, or I settle for a spiritual buzz.
I settle for these feelings and then without even knowing that it becomes the consistency of my relationship with God.
I’ve said it time and time again, you cant trust your feelings. Yet, I find myself trusting my feelings! Thats not the point in all of this!
Christianity is not the application of teaching, but fellowship and friendship with God!
I just hear my dad in John’s words, “Don’t settle. Don’t settle. Don’t settle.”
I can see John trying to tell us, “Don't settle! Jesus is everything! I’ve been with him! I know him! I've touched him! This is all for friendship with God! Don't overcomplicate this. Don't settle!”
God doesn't want servants or employees - He wants partners. He wants to be your friend. That is what all of this is about! Friendship with Jesus.
I want to challenge you, listen to Grandpa John - “don't settle”. Don’t fall into the lie of religious duties, but fall in love with the man Jesus. Who died not to create employees and servants, but partners and sons!