Scripture: Jeremiah, chapters 48-49; 1 John, chapter 1
1 John 1:1-4 (TM) – From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in – we heart it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.
We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
Observations: In his introduction to the Johannine letters in The Message, Eugene Peterson says, “The basic and biblical Christian conviction is that the two subjects” – love and God – “are intricately related. If we want to deal with God the right way, we have to learn to love the right way. If we want to love the right way, we have to deal with God the right way. God and love can’t be separated.” The writings of the apostle John – the Gospel, his three letters, and the Revelation – all revolve around the simple fact that Jesus came to reveal God to us. In the Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus that God did this because of love. And John begins this letter by reminding his readers that he was there from the very first day– so when he tells them about Jesus, they can trust that he knows what he’s talking about.
The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! In the Prologue to the Gospel, John says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The point is that the Word, Jesus Christ, came to embody the life and character of God to us. God is not just sitting “up there,” unconcerned about humanity; he is not waiting with lightning bolt in hand, ready to strike us down; he has appeared to us in the person of Jesus, and he has revealed his love to us in the fact that Jesus gave his life for us.
We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you… When we have a life-altering experience – whether good or bad – we feel the need to talk about it. We share warnings based on the mistakes we’ve made; we share the joy and the excitement that we feel when we’re “on top of the world.” That’s a natural part of our humanity, our shared experience of this life. As followers of Jesus, we share our experience of the life that we’ve found in Jesus because that’s what he’s called us to do – but we also do it because we can’t help but talk about the most incredible experience we can imagine. We’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.
Think about that: communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Sharing life with God and his Son. What could be better than that? If we think there is anything in this life that is better, it’s simply because we’ve never really experienced that sort of communion with God.
Jesus experienced that life of communion with God; he invites us to share that life. He modeled that life for us, and everything that we see in the life and character of Jesus reminds us that there could be no better life than that. John isn’t inviting his readers to share that life because he’s trying to build an organization; he invites them to share that life so that they will enjoy it. Your joy will double our joy reminds us that heaven rejoices every time someone finds their way home to God, and we have the privilege of sharing in that joy!
Application: God is reminding me to stay focused on “love and God,” as Peterson puts it in his introduction. We cannot experience real joy and peace in this life without being in relationship with God; that relationship revolves around love. God loves us, and he calls us to love others. As we grow in our love for him, we long to share the joy and peace that we’ve found with others, because we know that there is nothing better than that! In the midst of all of the other “stuff” that fills our schedules and overwhelms our minds, we need to remember: “love and God.”
Prayer: Father, thank you for reminding me that I don’t need to complicate matters; you call us to know you, to love you, and to love each other. If I really love others, I’ll happily share the joy that I’ve found in you, because I want them to experience it too. Help me today to love others more, and to recognize the opportunities to share your love with them. Amen.