In this day of media reality shows it is seen as entertainment to weigh up who will stay and who will go. We are asked to judge from our living rooms whether one contestant is genuinely more talented, or more worthy, of remaining in the show. We are part of the culture of voyeuristic entertainment, choosing whether to believe one to be more genuine than another. The Christian, too, is ask to make choices about what to believe and what not to. Whether or not we believe one person’s view of Jesus or another is the most important decision we will make. John, one of the first followers of Jesus, knew that his friends had such a dilemma in their day too.

My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world. Here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God. And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming. Well, here it is, sooner than we thought! 1 John 4:1-3 (The Message)

We hear so many differing and diverse messages about religion and spirituality today that it is hard to know what is ‘truth’. There is a common expectation that tolerance means only emphasizing shared meaning and moralities while disregarding the unique qualities of anybodies beliefs. I do believe we are to be respectful of others right to believe differently from ourselves, but I do not believe that tolerance requires us to divest our religion of anything disagreeable to others. Keeping our understanding of Jesus from a broad understanding of the Bible’s message means that we will see him in the context of his time and in the purpose of God for our salvation. There were those, in John’s time, who said that Jesus only appeared to be human. This is called Docetism from the greek work, ‘to appear’. There were those who said that Jesus was merely a special human being but was in no way God. This is called Arianism. These misguided beliefs remain in some peoples belief about Jesus today. If we are to have the message of the Bible, the context of Jesus’ life, and the purpose of God for our salvation, in view as we decide who Jesus is then John encourages us to see, ‘Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God.’ Any preacher, religion, or spirituality that doesn’t say this may be a part of the bigger picture of religious or spiritual belief today, but it isn’t genuinely Christian.

Lord, I confess that Jesus came as both fully god and fully man. I am grateful for your Bible that says how we are to live and believe. Bring your Word to life for me, through the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that I may truly live in step with him who is my salvation. Amen.

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