Pastor John (the letter doesn't say who wrote it - but it has traditionally been accepted that it was the Apostle John. Notice the same themes and language in this letter as you find in John's gospel) is writing to a community of believers. There are problems in the community (if you are, or ever have been part of any community whatsoever, perhaps this does not surprise you...)
Here are some of the things I noticed that John seems to be concerned about.
1. Some wrong teaching about Jesus - people were promoting a "spiritualized Jesus" denying that he really came "in the flesh", that he was really human. There were "anti-christs", or as my friend Matt calls them "imaginary Jesuses." (1:1-2, 4:1-2, 5:1-2)
2. This was sowing confusion and doubt in the community ... are we "spiritual" enough? (3:19, 4:3ff)
3. There was conflict in the community: arguments, one-upmanship, not taking care of one another. (3:16, 4:20)
4. People were concerned with being "spiritual" , but not with being righteous - that is, in right relationship with one another and with God. (2:4, 3:7)
What did you notice? What were the "big ideas" in this letter? What is the tone?
Here is a quote from Eugene Peterson to think on: "If Jesus is divested of all human features and characteristics, loving Jesus is stripped of all the details that have to do with the life we are actually living with our family and neighbors. And here's the thing: a dehumanized Jesus is a lot easier and more pleasant to love than a difficult spouse, or an angry teenager, or a rude neighbor, or an insufferably boring brother-in-law - all of them so very very human."
For this week, read chapter 1. There are just 2 paragraphs - what is John emphasizing here? Why is this important?
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