I write these things to you concerning those who would deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming.
I’m going to let this writer off. 6 male pronouns in four sentences, when eternal God has no pronoun. This writer had a point to make. The point was that in Jesus, God did truly connect with humanity and indeed, in Jesus, was human. At the time of this writing, the early Christian world was having a heresy bazaar. All sorts of imaginative ways were being adopted to explain just how Jesus came to be God present on earth. For this writer, the most recent heresy was that Jesus wasn’t really flesh, but spirit only. No wonder the overuse of a human pronoun.
For adults like me who are annoyed when called children, we’ll also let this writer speak. To be a child of God is a Jewish faith deep truth; a profound knowing that we are so connected to eternal God that we share flesh and blood, thoughts and passion. We are utterly related. Jesus revealed this, and by the time of writing, this author knew Holy Spirit, present personally and in Christian friends and communities. We are so related that the mind of God reveals truth inside our own mind – the ‘abiding in you’ phrase of this lovely passage. We are so connected that we abide in God as God abides in us. God is inside and outside, holding us, giving us courage. When we know this as truth for ourselves, we can have the confidence we need, whenever it is needed, at our meeting with God whenever that is, and in our own time. When we absolutely know that we are so connected with God, we’ll have the courage to walk the way of Jesus in any protest, in any trauma, in any place where love will transform. Amazing. “It is true and is not a lie.” v27.
Eternal God, I trust you. I know you in Jesus. I know you, Holy Spirit. And I know how very human I am. Give me patience to relax in you so that you are not restrained in me. Let me love and act with generous confidence. Strengthen courage and trust in me and in my faith sisters and brothers.
In the name of Jesus and in the power and presence of Holy Spirit, Amen
The Rev’d Elizabeth Gray-King, URC Education & Learning Programme Officer, member St Columba’s URC.