“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. “ (1 John 4:4-6 ) [I have added verse 4 and 6b to the original citation.]
The quote paired to this passage from 1 John by Melodie Davis is from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To be great is to be misunderstood.” The quote from Emerson influences the reading of the passage by suggesting that the message of God is often overlooked or misunderstood; but is only one of the messages of this passage. Identifying who is speaking and what prominence should be given to what they say is another theme of this passage.
Chapter four starts with a discussion of true spirits and false spirits, namely specifically the antichrist. Obviously the antichrist is going to have a different message and viewpoint than Christ. But such diametrically opposed viewpoints are not the only differing perspectives in the world. Yesterday I spoke about different viewpoints and messages amongst Christianity. For some the difference in messages might as well be as diametrically opposed as Christ and antichrist. In my comments from yesterday I set forth the viewpoint that all Christian messages (if they are true to example that Christ gave) serve the purpose of allowing people to find themselves a place on the Christian spectrum. In a way, this passage is a good follow up to my comments yesterday.
The question is, for those in differing Christian groups, who is truly speaking from God’s viewpoint, and who is speaking from the world’s? Or more succinctly, who is from God and who is not? Spirit of truth and spirit of falsehood? And how in the face of such accusations do we maintain peace amongst ourselves and peace with the world?
May the Spirit of the Holy be amongst us to help us answer the difficult questions and to help maintain peace. Selah!