See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1
John, one of Jesus’ first followers, writing late in his life is amazed at God’s love. He holds it out for us to look at it, like, “Can you believe this?” Then he explains what’s so amazing about God’s love – that we should be called children of God.
“John, what’s so amazing about that? Isn’t that Theology 101, that all people are God’s offspring? What pumps you up about that?”
There are two ways in which God relates to us: Creator and Redeemer. Richard Dawkins, notwithstanding, the Bible assumes that every human being has a relationship with God as their Creator (you can add to that Sustainer, Provider). So, there is no person who does not need to be in a meaningful relationship with their Creator. The issue is only whether or not people know it, believe, it, or accept it.
But, creation got messed up, when the first folks, Adam and Eve, decided not to believe it or accept it – rejecting God as the source of their lives, going their own way. So, everything got broken – knowledge of God, trust, relationships, family, work, nature, you name it. Hence – Redemption – God’s plan to repair, even re-create all things.
Jesus spoke of our need for a totally fresh start when he said that it was like being born all over again. John wrote in John 1:12 that the great thing about ‘receiving Christ’, ‘believing in his name,’ was that a person gets to become a ‘child of God.’
So, how is this different from generally being God’s offspring?
What John and the first Christians understood so well, is that through Christ, we get to become children of God like Jesus is a child of God. In other words, that we get to enjoy the same closeness to God as Jesus did. That’s why when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he said, “Start off by calling God what I call him, ‘Father.’? That is not how people normally addressed God.
How much do you think that God loves Jesus? Well , he loves us that much.
And, that is what amazes John.
Check out the implications that follow in that passage. We no longer fit in this world, we’re in tension with it more than ever. It’s not clear how this all even works, but John says that when Jesus appears we will be ‘like him,’ because we will see him as he is.’’
A startling implication is that John says that we will not only have the same kind of love that Jesus had, but if we keep focused on that reality, we will more and more have the same kind of life that Jesus had.
You know what, I don’t think that anyone I know would complain if they saw more Christ-like love and faith coming out of my life. That would not be a bad thing at all.
Now, I’m amazed with John, that God would want to pull that kind of transformation off. And that it would start with God wanting me to be in the family.
See what kind of love that is.