Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life.
My first recollections of the Antichrist were from the 1970s horror film “The Omen”. I was a kid then, and such talk gave me nightmares for days. Are such threats real?
Firstly, lets nail down what a Christian might be. We can use many definitions, but theologian N.T. Wright’s characterisation of loyalty to Christ is compelling. Jews, including those in the first Century, are defined by their loyalty to the One God. This continued in the embryonic Jesus movement through their loyalty to the One God through the Messiah.
An anti-Christ – either a movement or an individual – can be defined by their opposition to the reign and status of Christ. I would hypothesise that they would be loyal to their cause too. We should be mindful of such opposition, be it veiled or in the open, and the threat that they may present to the modern day Jesus movement.
But the tone of today’s reading is not one of hopelessness or dispair. It is a reminder that such threats, real as they may be, do not have the final say. We are reminded and encouraged to continue abiding in God’s love through our relationship with his Son, Jesus. The ultimate gift to us is eternal life – a quality of life, empowered by the Spirit, and extending out into the next life. Any earthly threats that we face, no matter how large, cannot annihilate Christ’s love for us.
Lord Jesus, we thank you that you have ultimately defeated all threats that we may face. We are hopeful of the ultimate rule of the Kingdom of God. May we draw strength and encouragement from abiding in you, from dwelling daily within your love and care. We thank you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Daniel Harris – Student Minister at St Neots URC / Ordinand at Westminster College.