The Real Deal
Today’s scripture selection: First John 4-5
Key verses: First John 4:1
Every now and then I catch myself saying that someone or something is “the real deal.” I suppose that dates me. I don’t know that people under a certain age would even get what that means – or at the very least, it probably sounds very old-fashioned.
At any rate – I still think it’s a good expression.
To me, it simply means that someone or something is genuine; reliable; trustworthy.
John the apostle never used such an expression – but he would know what I mean when I say it. He warned his “beloved” children in the faith to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
Here’s how Eugene Peterson’s translation puts it:
“My dear friends don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers in the world.”
Ouch! But it couldn’t be much clearer than that. John even gives his “beloved” very practical advice on how to tell the liars from the ones they can trust:
“Here’s how to test for the genuine spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ – the Son of God – who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person – comes from God and belongs to God.”
That help clears thing up. And even though I would argue that there are some who “confess openly” and still do very questionable things – John’s advice is still worth hearing.
In short, he is warning us to be on our guard when it comes to our spiritual life. And that is very good advice indeed.
So keep your eyes peeled for “the real deal” – or whatever you call something or someone who is genuine and trustworthy.
It will save you a lot of heartache.
Prayer: Lord, give me a discerning spirit, that I may always follow the truth. AMEN.
By Paul Simrell
The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
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