That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. – 1 John 1:1-4
The track – such as it was – went around the football field behind the junior high I attended. It was not level. In fact it provided some significant opportunities to stumble or slow you down. This wasn’t very difficult for me. I was never a runner. I was always the last one to finish our lap before calisthenics in our gym class. One day, however, I was not last – far from it. I was to lead our warm-up calisthenics for the whole class. So I ran like the wind–or more aptly-put–like a breeze. I got there before a good 10% of the class finished. I was afraid of being called out. I pretty much lived that way all through junior high school, and much of high school. I lived in light of fear.
A far better way to live is in light of God’s love. This is what John will be laying out for us over these next 5 weeks. Chapter by chapter we’ll work our way through this short letter (John’s letters are in the back of the Bible–not among the first books of the New Testament like the Gospel of John).
John begins with an echoette. He echos the opening words of his Gospel account of Jesus’ ministry. There he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Those words were likely written before John’s letter. But they echo the opening words of the Bible itself: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
This message about God’s love is nothing new. It was from the beginning. It was not a new idea on God’s part. Nor was it a last minute addition. It was from the beginning. That love has been shown to us in Jesus. He is the embodiment of God’s love. He shows us God’s love. He had been heard, seen, and touched by John and the others. God’s love is real.
Those who receive that love of God hold Jesus in common. That is our fellowship. If we are truly to live in light of God’s love we must claim our place in the center of that love. It’s not our ethnicity, nor our intelligence, nor our socio-economic station that brings us together. God’s love spans all those things and more. It even spans the chasm of our sin and embraces us in our brokenness.
Living in light of that kind of love opens up new avenues of hope, joy, fellowship, and opportunity. The burden of proving ourselves by our performance is lifted. We are free to live in joy–a joy that overflows into the lives of others.