Jeanette Woods (a board member of Veta Youth) delivered this as a devotion at our recent board meeting.  Some real wisdom here!

A quick skim over facebook will reveal that Christian people can be just as divided over social and political issues as the rest of the population. I have to admit, I do not necessarily align myself with every other Christian on every issue. There are some I would like to distance myself from!

And so I find myself asking, if Christians disagree about so many things, ‘What is the core of authentic Christian faith?’

I saw a study recently based on 1 John, and some of the basics this letter deals with. So here is a little checklist which is probably not complete, but hopefully covers some of the aspects we look for in what it is to be authentic. Before looking at others, perhaps a good starting point is to ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. Do I confess Jesus Christ as Lord? Demons may tremble at the sound of his name, but for us, he is the Lord of our lives. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God. 1 John 4:16
  2. Am I unhappy when I sin? This doesn’t mean that we don’t fail, but we long to be in a right relationship with God. People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. 1 John 3:9. Who we really are is about authenticity.
  3. Do I love God?  A ‘reality test’ must be about authenticity too. If we love God, we love each other. If we love each other, it is because we love God. Every person who believes that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, is God-begotten. If we love the One who conceives the child, we’ll surely love the child who was conceived. The reality test on whether or not we love God’s children is this: Do we love God? 1 John 5:1-2.
  4. Do I obey the commands of Jesus? We don’t want to create a rule-keeping environment, but a relationally driven obedience. Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome. 1 John 5:3. I found this to be a particular challenge in running a Christian school – my prayer was always that kids would not go through the school thinking that keeping the rules, tucking in their shirts and being polite to teachers made them good Christians! That’s a trap for all of us – our obedience comes out of our relationship. Our relationship with God motivates us to be obedient – and we have the help of the Holy Spirit,
  5. Do I love the word of God? It is our prayer that our students discover a deep love for the Scriptures and have their lives enriched by their study of the Bible. That’s how we all grow to maturity. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. 1 John 2:5

These are the central authenticities that unite us, while other issues may divide us, or perplex us.  It is our task  to stand on these values, to encourage each other on our journeys and to pray for growth as disciples of Christ.

Jeanette Woods

17 August 2017