John, the best friend of Jesus, wrote the letter of 1st John to churches in conflict in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey).
Some believers were swept away in false teaching that denied Jesus was the Messiah (Christ), fully human, or the Son of God (Docetism).
These were very serious theological & doctrinal errors, but one of the main themes of 1st John is LOVE… why is that?
Was John a cotton-candy Christian who couldn’t stand for truth or take a punch? Not at all!
He just knew (as the best friend of Jesus) that love is Christianity 401, not 101.
He took hard stands for truths in this letter, and he didn’t go soft on truth or the divisive deceivers in the churches.
In fact, he vehemently opposed one particular false teacher named Cerinthus with tenacity for many years because he knew truth without love is mean, but love without truth is meaningless.
But John’s relentless & simultaneous emphasis on love is just as important today as it was back in 90 A.D.
See, some of the early church believers were being right in the wrong ways (sound familiar?)…
As Gary Burge says, “John exhorts his own followers to exhibit love because they were responding to the secessionists [divisive deceivers] with equal hostility.
And just because their theology was right by no means says their angry attitudes were justified. Defenders of good traditions cannot defend their own misconduct because they are correct.”
And we wrestle with this today too!
So here’s how we can be right in the RIGHT ways in 2021:
1. Pray for those you disagree with.
2. Re-evaluate if you’re prioritizing something secondary or preferential too highly.
3. Don’t engage in what I call “rightolatry” – the idolatry of rightness when being right is more important than God or others (2nd Tim. 2:22-26).
4. Break free from the obsession with proving others wrong for selfish reasons.
5. Allow truth to motivate you to loving action for the good of OTHERS, not yourself.
6. Warn people without degrading people.
Loving our enemies is the essence of the Gospel; it’s what Jesus did for us.
We only know Truth because we know Jesus (who IS the Truth)!
And he didn’t say, “Everyone will know that you are my disciples…if you’re right all the time.”
He said, “Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Let’s be right in the right ways, like Jesus.