Who exactly is the Antichrist? (Not the person you think)
Who exactly is this Antichrist figure? (Not the person you believe it is)
Nicolae Carpathia was a fantastic villain. He was “The Antichrist,” coming from an ancient Roman heritage, astonishingly clever and athletic, cunning and ruthless in business. That naturally led him to politics, and he quickly became the Supreme Potentate. He was the type of character we all wanted to despise. His life is turned upside down in the book, with an assassination, a resurrection, the indwelling of Satan, and an eventual appointment in the Lake of Fire. This is the fictitious persona of The Antichrist that many of us were exposed to in the 1990s. The book is imaginative, but it is not about the Antichrist.
To get our bearings, we must look for references to the antichrist in the Bible. This title does not appear in Revelation; it is not part of John’s apocalypse. It does, however, appear in letters attributed to John. These letters are addressed to churches in peril: a number of members now dispute that Jesus was completely human on earth and have left the community. They regard Jesus as only “appearing” as a human on earth. The author of these letters capitalizes on the congregation’s view of the universe as a cosmic conflict between good and evil. With these categories in mind, he speaks about the antichrists: people who have abandoned the church and deny Jesus’ humanity.
Because of this lack of true belief in Jesus, the author judges individuals who left the community to be outside of the faith. They had never heard of or followed Jesus. Correct Christology is not restricted to theoretical ideas in 1 John; believing always leads to action. Once believers comprehend who Jesus is and how he represents God’s love, they must love similarly.  If Jesus is not acknowledged as both human and fully divine, the material world loses its value. Christians who have abandoned community no longer cherish the church’s embodied community. They no longer value the incarnation’s reality. They have lost faith in God’s love. They do not live in accordance with love.
These ideas are directly contradicted by Jesus’ incarnation. Rather than being misled by those who have departed, this community is called to remember that God is love. Jesus is the personification of God’s love for humanity. Those who believe and follow Jesus receive eternal life. Following Jesus always necessitates real believers loving one another (1 John 4:7-8). Antichrists do not love people because they deny Jesus’ humanity and God’s love. God’s love is self-sacrificing and social, seeking the best for humanity: life through Jesus (1 John 4:9-10). The truth about who Jesus is is revealed via divine anointing (1 John 2:20, 24-27). This anointing focuses on true Christians who have remained in fellowship; they know who Jesus is and are reminded to let this truth live in them.
It is easy to latch onto caricatures such as the mythical Carpathia, but this leaves us hunting for someone who resembles a Marvel comic villain. The truth is more subtle: the antichrists come from within our own church. Their teaching diminishes the reality of Jesus’ complete humanity and divinity coexisting. They disregard God’s love. They are anti-community. They do not live in a loving manner.
A lack of love within the Christian community should give us pause in our own setting. A church where Christ is not central should cause us to pause and consider what is important. A community that does not give of itself does not actually exist as a community. If love is not at the heart of a church, it is not Christ. The most important work for a loving community is to reflect Jesus Christ’s embodied life, death, and resurrection. This approach pays attention to those around them and recognizes the community’s needs, hopes, and worries. It transforms belief into action.
Encourage holistic well-being
It is critical to reflect on the meaning of the incarnation. God’s all-encompassing love is not a cheap grace in which all are accepted but none are changed. It is a costly, extravagant, and priceless grace in which all are welcomed and changed. Knowing Christ means living as Christ. The church must represent God in order to be a people called by God, and God is love.
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