Friday, July 14, 2017

1 John 3:1-3, A Meditation (II)

“See how great a love[1] the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and we such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

How often do we pass over the word “Father” without recognizing its import? John’s introduction (1:1-4) contains the words, “…and indeed our fellowship (koinonia) is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write so that our joy may be complete.”

Jesus came so that we might know the Father, live in deep intimate relationship with the Father, and in so doing know the joy of Jesus and the Trinity (John 15:11). John and his associates found joy in writing, in communicating, in sharing, the life “that was manifested” (1 John 1:2) in the hope that others would be drawn into the koinonia, communion, of the Trinity (1 John 1:3).

How often do we say the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9 – 13) and do not linger in the first word, “Father”? Do we consider what Jesus says just before verse 9? “So do not be like them [those who do not know the true and living God]; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Those who do not know the true and living God, but who worship other gods, think that they must get the attention of their gods, that they must placate and satisfy their gods, that they must appease their gods, that they must do something to get their gods to act. But Jesus says that “your Father knows”.

Why does our Father know? Because our Father loves us and He therefore pays attention to us. In the midst of the insanity of our culture our Father knows us and loves us and pays attention to us. Yes, because God is God and is therefore omniscient, He knows all things, but the word “Father” conveys a relational knowing – He knows us as our Father, not as solely the Creator of the universe. I do not understand this mystery, but it is portrayed in Scripture. We can cry unashamedly, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), for though God is indeed the Creator of all there is, through Jesus Christ He is also our Father, and we can therefore say, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are…”

John emphasizes the relational reality of our familial bond with, “and such we are”, or with the simple literal “we are” – we are His children, we are, we are, we are. How many times must we repeat “we are” until we begin to see the deep-space reality of what has happened on this planet and in our hearts? God has come back to the “Silent Planet” (to borrow an image from C.S. Lewis) to bring His children back to Himself. How powerful is His love? How desperately pursuing is His love? What great lengths will His love go to rescue us?

We were dead in our sins, we were His enemies, we were laden with sin and death, we were wicked, yes wicked. To see the love of God we must see our hideous condition, and if we attempt to mitigate our condition as if to say, “We weren’t all that bad,” we might as well say that Jesus didn’t need to come and die because there was another way – and that the love of God is not all that magnificent and humbling.    

To rescue the innocent is one thing, to rescue and die for the guilty and wicked is quite another. But in Jesus Christ the children of God are brought back to their Father and “we are” now His sons and daughters, “we are” now saints in Jesus Christ. We know that since we had nothing to do with this great rescue and redemption that we can rest secure in our Father’s amazing love. This is “a great love”, a love that we are called to pass on to others just as John passed it on – and passing it on means living in relationship with others, for in loving relationship with others we know loving relationship with our Father, and in loving relationship with our Father we know loving relationship with our brothers and sisters.

There is no one we will meet today who does not need to know the love of God. Today we will meet those living in vibrant relationship with our Father, then we will meet those who belong to the family but have little awareness of who Jesus Christ is and who they are in Him, then we will meet those who think some semblance of religion makes them something they are not, and then we will meet those who have embraced the lies of this age and think and live as if nothing matters, and then there are those who are simply hungry for love and peace and hope. We have the Father’s love to give to all, we have a drink that forever satisfies, a bread that fills the soul.

Jesus says to all, “Come.” What do we say?

If we will holistically know the Trinity as our abiding place, and if we will live in the awareness that the Trinity abides in us…what might today look like? It will look like Jesus walking the earth.

[1] Or, “what kind of love”

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