Written by Talitha Arnold
"Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come." - 1 John 2:18-25
We don't use the term "Antichrist" much in the United Church of Christ. Neither does the Bible. It only appears in the first two Letters of John. The Apostle Paul uses a couple of synonyms in his letters—"the lawless one," "Belial," "the worthless one." Given how often "the Antichrist" has shown up in Christian history and art, its scarcity in the Bible is a bit surprising.
Yet the term's scant appearance in the Bible is probably good, since we Christians have seldom used it in very Christian ways. Most often "Antichrist" is slapped on people of other faiths (Jews, Muslims, etc.) or other Christians with whom we disagree. Protestant Reformers John Wycliffe and Jan Hus both labeled the Pope the Antichrist, and the Pope returned the favor.
A few years ago when I googled "Antichrist" for a presentation on Revelation, the most popular image was Kofi Annan, then-Secretary General of the U.N. These days, President Obama is often at the top of the Google Antichrist list.
Despite its history of misuse and abuse, the "Antichrist" is actually a useful—and powerful—tenet of faith, if it's redeemed from its misuse and abuse. The term simply means "against Christ." Rather than looking for the Antichrist in others, what if we had the courage to see it in ourselves?
I know in my own heart and soul, as perhaps in yours, there are many things that are "against Christ," things within myself that work against the new life God offers. Fear is one. Regret and despair are others.
John's letter affirms that the antidote to the Antichrist is the Christ. (As the kids in our youth group would say, "Duh.") Less time spent looking for the Antichrist in others could mean more time to let in Christ's love and new life in us.
May the antidote of Christ's love give us the healing and hope we need. Amen.