18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 1 John 2:18-21
I have a pastor who is a fabulous story teller, Mr. JD Greer, the lead teaching pastor at Summit Church. He told a story a few weeks ago that has stuck with me ever since.
Imagine two men sitting on a porch at a farm, rocking away in the evening. There are a few dogs resting underneath the porch and all is quiet, until suddenly, one dog gives a bark and shoots off into the distance. All of the other dogs perk up as well, and start madly yelping, chasing after the one who went first.
The first man turned to the second and asked what was happening, slightly startled by the whole event.
"The first dog saw a rabbit," said the second man, "and he’s the only one who will come back with it."
The two men watched as one by one, all the dogs came back, slumping back down under the porch in defeat. The last dog to come in was the first dog to run out, and he had the rabbit in his mouth, claiming victory.
"How did you know the first dog would get the rabbit?" The first man asked the second.
The second man paused before answering. "Because he was the only one who saw the rabbit," he replied.
As down home as this story sounds, I loved the point. I think that Jesus puts a life cycle in a believer, something that repeats itself beautifully. First is belief- the truth that we hear and then we know that Jesus is God. The second is a building period, of learning and growing. The third is testing, and this is where we discover who has really seen, and who is just barking at the wind.
Belief, building, testing. Testing leads some of us back to a new, stronger belief where we are rebuilt, and retested.
John tells us to watch for the people who have walked away after a round of testing, and to recognize those people. He tells us not to let our faith be dissuaded by their lack thereof. John speaks of a group of people who have believed together, been built up together, and then separated once the testing life cycle began, never making it back to a new period of belief.
“But they went out,” he writes in verse 19, “that it might become plain that they are not of us.”
He assures those who stayed, those who remain in the life cycle not to be confused by those who left. “You have been anointed,” he tells them, “You have knowledge.”
“I write to you,” he encourages in verse 21, “not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it.”
I pray that today, we would be encouraged by the life cycle of a believer, that we would believe that we have a knowledge from God, a beautiful truth. I pray that we would pray for people who have fallen away from testing, that they would chase the living God, and that we wouldn’t be tempted to chase the wind.