Dear Friend of Vision
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” (1 JN 2:12-14)
Frankly, I have been teaching from this passage for a long time. It is the theme verse for my book, Journey to Wholeness. I have taught principles from this passage on 6 continents, and perhaps 50 nations or more. I never get tired of it.
You see, having been an ambitious young man and always in a hurry, I desired to prove the naysayers wrong. It was not much about the journey, but the destination. I always wanted to get there, wherever there was, and get there first, fastest, and best. Well, haste makes waste is still true in life, and trying to skip steps, whether in a 12-step program or our general spiritual journey, can be disastrous at best.
From my humble perspective, John is simply stating to the believers of his day that we are all in some stage of growth or development. Wherever we are at, God wants us to grow, change, and fulfill our purpose. For children, (and we all start as children, see John 1) they have some tasks to learn. I summarize these tasks as Intimacy…to know they are forgiven and are truly wanted and loved; this is key. Many believers have a hard time believing they are truly and completely forgiven and loved by God. John reminded them that they need to remind students and congregants of this wonderful reality known as Grace.
Young men are old enough to fight the battles of the world, flesh and the devil, and can overcome through the word of God. I call this the Overcoming Iniquity stage. Unfortunately, many get stuck in this stage, forever going around the mountain of besetting sin, unable to appropriate the word of God for themselves or others. Fighting in the Kingdom of God cannot be avoided. The worst enemy we ever encounter is the person we see in the mirror…but again, God gives grace and provides mentors to help us. The overcoming leads to our true identity…sons of God. The final stage discussed by John, the very wise apostle was….
Fathers know…they know the stages, they know the struggle, they know the responsibility. They know the suffering…they know. They have the ability to help others to know Him, this is the place of integrity. Our journey is taking us there; but like all, we are not fully there. Under stress, we can regress to earlier times and ways; but we are moving forward on the journey and Christ is with us. Frankly, that is what we need to know.