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Embrace the Obvious

May 25, 2018

Several years ago, I was serving on a church staff with a pastor who was quite a mentor to me. He had some funny sayings that he would use from time to time. Sometimes we would be discussing something and his response to me would be, “You’ve got a firm grasp of the obvious there, son” and walk away. I would always get a chuckle out of it.

In studying I John, I have noticed that John has a firm grasp of the obvious as well…

I John 3:9-10, Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how God’s children and the devil’s children become obvious. Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother or sister.

Those who continue in a practice of sin are the devil’s children and those whose seed remains in Christ are God’s children. Obvious, eh? I have no problem with obvious – in fact, I really appreciate it many times when I’m trying to make a decision about something.

John’s point is Whoever does right, he is God’s child – and whoever does not do right, he is not. It’s obvious. He even punctuates it by saying whoever does not love his brother or his sister is not one who does right – therefore who ever does not have love for one another is not God’s child.

In looking at this concept of obvious in this passage, I have a couple of concerns.

First of all, this doing right, living right because I’m God’s child may be obvious, but it may not always be easy. Let’s look at the forces that affect this. First, we have the God-head – God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit, who teach us, protect us, save us, comfort us, and provide for us – all things good. Then, we have the devil, Satan, who is opposed to God, who really has all of us until we surrender to Christ. He wants to keep us from surrendering to Christ and gives us great temptation in this world for things that seem to satisfy any craving the flesh might have. Then we have a third force that also has a pretty strong will, that being self. If I’m honest, sometimes self is a bigger deciding factor in my choices than I desire it to be or know that it should be.

Three forces, two of them working against God – one of them all of the time, and one of them all the time if working on its own. It reminds me of a legendary quote that is sometimes attributed to long-time Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes as well as former University of Texas football coach Darrel Royal. “There are three things that can happen on a forward pass – and two of them are bad.” He, of course was saying that one possible outcome was a completion, which is good, but two others – an incompletion or an interception – were bad. For that reason, both of these men chose to stay with offenses that were run-oriented, where their preparation as far as blocking and staying within the play as designed were incredibly important.

But it’s hard to win a game if you never pass the ball, you never go downfield, if you never really challenge the opposition. However, if you challenge the opposition, they are going to bring out their best to defend you and try to lure you into making a mistake. Every time you line up, they are trying to do their best to disrupt what you are trying to do and negate your progress. Obvious, right?

That brings me to my 2ndconcern about what is obvious. We can take the obvious for granted if we are not careful. We can become oblivious to the obvious. It may be obvious that I love my wife because I’m committed to her, provide for her, spend time with her and live with her, but if I don’t tell her I love her, she could begin to wonder or doubt about that.

What about the church, are there things that are obvious about the church that I can take for granted if I’m not careful? Let’s look at some characteristics of what the true church is, that we shouldn’t take for granted:

  • The church that exalts
  • Worships, honors God above all else, puts aside preferences and gives God the glory, enthusiastically
  • The church that bows
  • The church that prays together, stays together – praying for Kingdom things and not just personal requests
  • The church that invests
  • successful churches are praying and mission-minded – in community, sending missionaries, funding, equipping
  • The church that obeys
  • Never neglect the gathering together, committed to the first-fruits, celebrates Biblical marriage, prioritizes the Word
  • The church that baptizes
  • Baptizing regularly means the body of Christ is sharing the Gospel of Christ and making disciples of Christ
  • The church that connects
  • It’s all about relationships – within the body, outside the body, with other bodies of believers, within our community
  • The church that embraces
  • Welcomes people from all walks of life, with all sorts of habits and hang-ups, all colors and nationalities

Are there aspects of the church, like these, that you have taken for granted?  Maybe it’s time to re-commit, to embrace the obvious and not be oblivious any longer.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

From → Blog Posts, Podcasts

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