The first 3 posts in this series looked at the first 2 chapters of 1 John. There are several more places in the last 3 chapters of this letter that talk about love, with several repeated themes. I want to focus on the beginning of chapter 3 in this post.
But first, I would suggest that you take a couple of minutes to reread the epistle of 1 John. It will only take a couple of minutes. I’ll wait.
Now let’s look at the beginning of chapter 3.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3
John starts out this part of the letter by calling the reader to pay special attention to something that is amazing. Notice this! This is much more than a statement that God created us and that by obeying Him we have a relationship with Him. There is something truly breathtaking here. John opens this passage like this, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us,…” This is a powerful expression of love by God. The Creator of the universe designed a relationship for us as His children, a part of His family. We are that same creation that, when given a choice, rebelled, abandoned and even despised Him. And He arranged the circumstances and the ultimate sacrifice for us in order to provide a way for us to have that Father / child relationship.
Children of God
I want to pause to consider this. Children of God! That phrase brings to mind a special relationship. While some of us have had or know of someone who has had a very negative experience with their fathers, I think we can appreciate how this relationship is supposed to work. God chose this relationship many times in scripture to describe the relationship He has designed for us to have with Him. Think of the way a young child sees his father. Trust, security, awe and comfort are just some of what this relationship is. I think we have all seen pictures of a father and child walking hand-in-hand down a path that captures some of these ideas.
It is not just relationship connections. There is something more personal involved. I remember some years ago, when I was doing some work outside, stopping and staring at my hands. Memories were triggered of a time many years before of seeing my father’s hands when we were working together. The similarities of those hands were striking.
I have also been told that my son and I have similar mannerisms when we are walking. That should not surprise us since we carry much of the same DNA. We are different people, but share a common identity in our genes and in our shared experiences.
I see the parallel in the spiritual sense with us if we are God’s children. If we are truly God’s children we will have a relationship with Him that includes, trust, awe, comfort, and much more. Our behavior, life choices and much more will reflect His character. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”
Even more than that, verse 2 gives us something to look forward to. We are told that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him. The only thing that comes to mind to say to that is, Wow.
Now that is Love in action!
The World does not Know Us
The last sentence in verse 1 also should not surprise us. Much of the world has chosen to understand life without God. Questions of purpose, origins, value, etc., are answered specifically avoiding God. A lifestyle develops that is foreign to God. If people like that do not know or understand God, it only makes sense that they would not understand us if we are truly His children.
What do you think about these verses?
There is much more about love in 1 John 3. In the next post, I plan to study a few more verses in this chapter.
Until next time…