As He is, So am I in the World
I don't know about you, but some days I don't always wake up conscious to this astounding reality that the Apostle John declares in his letter. He seems to be making a statement about our essential nature and identity as the children of God. As his offspring (see Acts 17:29) we are both called and empowered (because of our union with Christ through the Holy Spirit) to live like Jesus did ... upon the earth . . . imagine that!!
How is that even possible you might ask, it's not a bad question and John helps us out in this chapter of his letter. Remember, John was with Jesus for three years, seeing him do his miracles but more importantly being with him and allowing himself to be loved by Jesus .. in the flesh! He was there at the Last Supper on the night of Jesus' arrest and subsequent crucifixion where Jesus gave the new commandment below, just after Judas had slipped out of the room to cooperate with Satan and the religious leaders to have Jesus killed (and Jesus was fully aware of his intent).
It sometimes seems it is all John writes about, but he has come to understand that God IS love, and if we are "in Him" and his life is in us, then we will love one another. Quite starkly he also states that the one who does not love, does not know God. When we says "know" like that, he is not talking about having some kind of rational knowledge or information about God, but rather he means knowing through intimate connection and oneness, a knowing that is experienced as a dynamic of loving relationships where life flows.
But what does John (and Jesus for that matter) mean by "love". Well again John helps us, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." (1 John 3:16) This kind of sacrificial, other-centered, covenantal love is a high calling indeed and Jesus has not only given us an example through his life but also gives us the power and motivation we need through his Spirit, by whom the love of the Father is poured into our hearts (see Rom 5:5). Again, we back to our need for a flow of life through the dynamic of fellowship/friendship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
When we live into this more perfect or complete expression of love, then we have boldness and confidence, not only with each other but we will also when we meet Jesus Christ on the day of judgement. In that day we are at peace because we are held in the love of the Father, saved from the due penalty for our sins because of Jesus' offering of himself upon the cross, in love. Thanks be to God! But please let us not wait until then to be perfected in love (John says, as do I your pastor), to claim to be a lover of God but not your brother whom you can see, means that you are deceived, or a liar, and we know where that comes from. Let us not partner with the father of lies like Judas was deceived into doing ... even though Jesus never stopped loving him for he could not!
Grace, Mercy & Peace,
PS Please consider joining with me for 3 Mondays in February (4pm-5pm), by registering for the Zoom conference on missional story-telling from the book of Acts (see below).