1 John 1:1-4
1 That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked
at and our hands have touched--this we
proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The
life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the
eternal life, which was with the
Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim
to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with
us. And our fellowship is with the
Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We
write this to make our joy complete.
John begins his first letter with a lengthy introduction in which he assures
the readers that what he is going to tell them about, he saw, heard with his
own ears, and even touched. He wants them to understand that his message is
grounded in reality, a reality he himself was witness to. In this introduction,
which comprises the first four verses, John gives two reasons why he is passes
on this good news to them. In verse 3 he says that it is "so that you
may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with
his Son Jesus Christ." So the purpose of this letter is relational. The
sharing of this truth brings about fellowship, participation with one another
and with the triune God Himself. I find it so easy to impersonalize truth so
that its endpoint is merely to increase my store of knowledge, but John here
is saying that truth leads to changed relationships, to new fellowship in Christ.
Secondly John says in v. 4 that "we are writing this that our joy may
be complete." Joy comes as we can share in and fellowship in this truth
with others--having others enjoy the sunset with us!
The main point, though, that I find myself focusing on is in the next verse: "This
is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light
and in him is no darkness at all." I found this verse fascinating. After
building his readers through the introduction to trust what his message is,
John tells them succinctly the main point he wants to make. And it is
that God is light and there is absolutely no darkness in him at all. Now why
is this the best news John has for his readers. Why should this be the first
thing he wants them to hear? Well, I started thinking about what it would be
to know someone in whom there is no darkness. I realized that there is something
in us that longs to know someone we can totally and completely trust to be
who they appear to be.
Don't we long to be able to be transparent with others? To find that someone
who we can be vulnerable with and trust that they will know how to handle our
vulnerability. I was thinking that the darkness that mars us, that keeps us
from completely doing this with any other human is not just direct sin, but our sinful condition which means we are still somewhat dark, because we are
not yet ourselves, we don't fully know the truth about ourselves and others.
Darkness comes partly from the ignorance that comes with our sinful condition.
We cannot totally reveal ourselves because we don't fully know ourselves and
because some of what we are is still toxic to others (and ourselves).
John wants his readers to know that God can be counted on completely. There
is no deceiving in God, no "dark side." He is all one thing, light.
I need not be afraid to put my trust in Him. I need not be afraid to reveal
myself to God because He knows me better than I know myself and He will not
betray my confidence, intentionally or unintentionally. If the circumstances in my life look dark at times, John reminds me that I needn't be afraid that
now I am seeing a "dark" side to God. God remains the same, all that
He is, is light and life giving.
This is not to say we can't have fellowship with one another--we do, although
imperfectly. But we can, as John will go on to say later, have fellowship with
one another only in Him, for He becomes our light and the light of our relationships
with one another. We can enjoy each other best when we count on Him to be the
one in whom there is no darkness at all!
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