“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (5:21)
This is a most unusual way to finish a letter. There is no greeting, no commending them to the grace of God (as often seen in the Apostle Paul’s letters), but just a simple caution. Why does John say this to his ‘little children.’? When John speaks of idols in this verse, I do not think he is speaking about images of wood, metal, or stone. There are also the materialistic idols of money, property, career, ambition and the like. It can mean all of these, but in this context, I believe he is talking about the idols that Christians can make. They can idolise a ministry, or even a minister, a name; they can exalt him and refuse to listen to anyone else. They can idolise a church, falling in love with the architecture, the location, or even the history of the place. They can idolise a ‘work’, holding onto the past and not letting go. We don’t want any past movements to just become monuments. Christians can even idolise the ‘truth’, proudly thinking they have it and that no-one else does. John warns against all these traps, of exalting anything above the Person of Jesus Christ and which can so easily replace the simplicity of the life of Christ. We are to remain in a living fellowship with Him, obeying His commands and loving one another with a pure, fervent love, always. This way, we shall avoid the error of things becoming cold and lifeless.
PRAYER :- “Lord, help me to stay in the freshness of your life and love, seeking you daily and not just relying upon the things of the past.”