My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Recently, I have been re-reading C S Lewis’s classic “The Screwtape Letters”. On reflection, I wondered whether the format of this classic work was inspired by John’s pastoral letters to the young churches of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey and Syria)? In the Epistle, John, an elderly, widely experienced Apostle writes to the relatively inexperienced young church members.
John writes with real affection for these congregations addressing them as “My little children.” Initially, in this passage he reassures them that when they do sin it is Jesus, and Jesus alone, who provides the means of forgiveness through His sacrifice at Calvary. Now we all sin, but generally speaking we later seek forgiveness. The difficulty comes when we continue to sin in the same way as before, so much so that we begin to value that sinning behaviour higher than anything else in our experiences of life. In reality, this continual sinning means that we are not at all sorry for what we have done wrong, but rather we have just gone through the motions of sorrow in order to kid ourselves that we are forgiven and, therefore, our thoughts and actions are insincere.
The sacrifice that Jesus made is the only means of our being forgiven, no action on our part can achieve such a redemption. John places this redeeming action as being available to all people right across the whole world. Later in this letter, chapter three, John goes on to describe what he means when he writes about sin. He makes it clear what is the nature of sin and what has be done about it through Jesus’ love for humanity.
we still prefer our ways
rather than yours.
We still haven’t learnt from our past mistakes
so we seek your forgiveness
open our hearts and minds
to truly worship you. Amen
The Rev’d Colin Hunt worshipping at Hutton & Shenfield Union Church, Essex
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