There are variations to this cliché, but here it is for us, today:
What would you do if you knew you only had one more hour of life to live?
Or one more day? Or one more month? Year?
Those are very probing questions. Some of you are living with this very sort of knowledge, and are therefore answering this sort of question with every breath.
Here is the very probing statement, though, in our reading today:
Dear children, this is the last hour … (1 John 2:18a; NIV84)
It has an ominous tone to it, almost like a dark sentence in a darker novel. I can see people, afraid, huddled together, with lightning flashing against a rain-splattered window. The older member of the group, the wise one, turns to his companions, and says the very same thing.
The remaining part of the verse has grown, in our combined religious consciousness, to be even more ominous. Here is the complete verse:
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. (2:18)
The antichrist, according to this letter, is a person who denies that Jesus is the Messiah, sent by God (2:22), and therefore, can be anyone, without needing to be anyone in particular.
For believers, it may be not be a grave temptation to decide that a man named Jesus never really was the son of God, or to decide that God exists, but would never stoop to the depths of humanity. Yet, before we move this temptation aside, we may want to consider the siren call of the doubt this could potentially cast in our own life. In fact, this may be the strongest temptation you face, in your own final hour.
In that very last hour, the antichrist of modern culture will try to convince you that God did not send a saving agent to the world, to lavish a divine love on us. If you adopted this temptation, after looking over the valleys and mountains of your past, then your last hour would be very, very different. It is that doubt that can potentially ruin your last hour of life on earth. That is why it is given so much attention here.
We are protected, though, in this last hour. God has, indeed, lavished upon us a love, that has anointed us (2:26; 3:1). We are children, confident of in the house of a Father, protected by all who claim that God has not made us his very own. We walk in a house of light, surrounded by the brilliance of God, protected from the evil that only humanity can produce, when they are apart from God.
So, be aware of this temptation in your last hour. It will come. Remember the words from this New Testament, letter, though. God has covered you with love. Don’t abandon that hope.