The best golfers in the world will tell you that in order for them to keep their golf game strong they must play golf regularly and pay attention to a few things that keep them at the top of their game. The same is true with fishermen and welders and salesmen and every other person in every other industry.
If these things are true with occupations, then by all means they are true of the real stuff of life, our spiritual lives. Our spiritual life is our connection to God, the part of us that impacts our faith, hope and love, the part of us that develops our internal character which in turn affects of thoughts, words and actions. Keeping your faith in Jesus Christ strong is about being the person that God created you to be and pointing others to eternal life that can be found in Jesus Christ.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we realize that there are many things in our world that oppose the Christian worldview. You will experience this in various ways throughout your life. You will battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil as you seek to live in a way that honors Jesus at all times. We all face these battles daily.
Because Jesus has saved you from your sins, you have come to realize that a life of strong faith in him is the true life, the best life, the one you want to live. A life of prayer and reading the Bible is foundational. Every page of the Bible helps us, and these verses from the second letter of John offer three keys to keeping our faith strong.
2 John 1:7-13
7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves so you don’t lose what we have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don’t greet him; 11 for the one who greets him shares in his evil works. 12 Though I have many things to write to you, I don’t want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to come to you and talk face to face so that our joy may be complete. 13 The children of your elect sister send you greetings.
Key #1: watch out for deceivers (vv7-9). There are people and organizations that have beliefs that are similar to what the Bible teaches but not exactly. The differences may be small in number but they are huge in significance. You can recognize these deceivers because they believe some things about Jesus differently than what the Bible teaches, and they may in fact have other books/teachings that they claim to be just as inspired as the Bible. Watch out for these deceivers. They will discredit the sound teaching of the Word of God and cause your faith to waiver.
Satan is crafty. Deceivers may be very nice people, people who focus on family values or people who live a party lifestyle. They may focus on worldly pleasures, making those things seem to be the most important aspects of life. Don’t be deceived. When the money or alcohol stops flowing, that lifestyle ends in destruction. It may be fun for a season, but it leaves people feeling hollow inside, with a craving for more and more and more. Only Jesus truly satisfies.
Key #2: Don’t welcome false teaching (vv10-11). You may think that you never be swayed by deceivers and you may be right. But what about the other people that live in your home? Continual exposure to false teaching will challenge the faith of even the strongest person, and when false teaching is welcomed into your home as normative your faith can be tested. So be on guard if someone stops by your home or asks you (or a family member) to meet with them to listen to what the Bible would refer to as false teaching.
Now, if a person of another faith (or no faith, or a secular worldview, or a party lifestyle) wants to come to your home for coffee or dinner and you want to show them the love of Christ, then by all means do so. As a matter of fact, as followers of Jesus we should be seeking to build relationships with all people. Jesus did the same, always welcoming everyone to share meals with him. But Jesus never allowed the other person or worldview to dominate the conversation. His purpose in eating with them was to share the truth of God’s Word with them and show them God’s love.
Here is one other insight on false teaching that seeks to get into your home. Be aware of the books, websites, music, TV shows and movies that you and the people in your home are reading, listening to, and watching. Ask the question: are these things causing my faith in Jesus to be stronger or weaker? Based on your answer to that question, ask the Lord to guide you on making wise decisions concerning these things.
Key #3: Encourage one another (vv12-13). When John writes the letter of 2 John, he tells his friends that he would rather see them face to face so that their collective joy may be complete. Seeing each other would be even better than just writing letters to one another, he says, and he is right. There is great joy when we get encouraging calls, text messages, emails and social media posts from our brothers and sisters in Christ. But there is greater joy when we can see them face to face, whether that be at a worship gathering, Bible study, meal together or other social setting.
In many places the Bible tells us the great value to our lives of meeting together with other believers. While we are grateful for the technologies that allow for online viewing of worship services and solid Bible teaching, nothing can replace the encouragement of spending time with those who also have faith in Jesus Christ.