A glaucoma analogy
Glaucoma is a disease where the nerve which carries light from the eye to the brain slowly dies. When I see patients, I will check the nerve to see how it looks. Sometimes a part of the exam will be concerning and leave me saying, “Hmmm, I wonder if this person has glaucoma.” To arrive at the answer requires the assembly of a whole set of factors.
After I get to the end of the exam and push back from the patient, I begin to explain these things. Many patients, after hearing my whole explanation will ask, “So do I have glaucoma?” Others will dejectedly say, “Hmm, I have glaucoma,” and just sit there.
At this point, I pipe back up saying, “We don’t know yet. Sometimes it takes years to really figure it out.” The problem we face is that some patients who have glaucoma look normal and others who don’t have glaucoma look like they do. We have to watch, observe, monitor the intraocular pressure, do photographs and tests of the side vision, ask about family, as well as other things. Sometimes the situation is immediately clear. Other times it takes years for clarity. Sometimes it is just the passage of time without change that proves the case.
For John’s recipients time had revealed the truth. These people had not gone out from the group. They had remained with the church. Perhaps we could turn the last sentence of verse 18 around a little saying, “Your staying showed that you really belonged to us.”
Did those who left lose their salvation?
The answer to that is no. John does not say that their lack of perseverance made them lose their salvation. He indicated that their departure put the truth on display. They had never really been part of the church. Parallels with Judas can be drawn here as well. Judas’ going showed that he did not belong to disciples. He had been a hanger-on. When the writing seemed to be on the wall regarding Jesus Judas cleared out of there. In his view of things the ship Jesus was sailing was about to sink, and so he sought a silver-parachute. Those 30 pieces of silver, however, proved to be of little value, so little that they rang out as he flung them on the floor amongst the unconcerned Pharisees.
The other disciples were not perfect. Peter had yet to disown Jesus, and Thomas to doubt his resurrection. Time proved their faithfulness, the reality of their allegiance. John’s letter here says, “Don’t worry, but look at how you have remained. Let that be a confidence to bolster your faith.” As time passed the inner ways, the inner allegiances, the true colors came to light.
Check out these closing admonitions from this lesson:
- Avoid forcing your context on the scriptures.
- Study the words of Christ
- Apply the words of Christ
- Do not be surprised with God’s words come true…AND…try with all your might to believe in the benevolence of God.
- Don’t forget God’s words (I bet you have seen that theme before.)