1 John 3: 1-7 (NRSVA)
1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
4 Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
It’s almost certain that it was the apostle John who wrote this letter, the same John who was brother to James, together dubbed by Jesus, ‘The Sons of Thunder’ (see Mark 3: 17). I wonder what Jesus saw in them to make him think of this nickname! It was also James and John who threatened to ‘command fire to come down from heaven and consume’ a Samaritan village that refused to welcome Jesus (Luke 9: 51-56). Hot-headed, impetuous, arrogant or what?! You will also recall the exasperation of the disciples when John and James requested the ‘best’ seats to the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom…
So, it comes as a surprise, when we read that from the cross, Jesus tenderly asks John to care for his mother Mary after his death. Clearly, over time, a profound transformation had taken place.
Love for God and for others as a response to God’s overwhelming love for us is a central theme in this epistle. John reflects personal experience when he writes: ‘Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be, has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.’ (Verse 2.)
It’s often said of someone that they’re ‘falling in with the wrong crowd’, the inference being that their behaviour, lifestyle and future prospects will suffer as a result. However, it can surely work the other way too. John’s life was irreversibly changed for good, and forever, when he met Jesus that day on the shoreline of Lake Galilee. Years of following Jesus, listening, learning, and leading others identify him as an authentic and beloved child of God. Time spent with Jesus will rub off on us too.
God of Love,
Who transformed the fiery proud John,
Into one who lived and led by love,
Whose named became ‘Beloved’;
Work in our hearts too,
That our only desire might be
To resemble the Saviour. Amen.