Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 3 2020 - 1 John 2:18-3:6 – We shall be like him

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1). We are greatly loved children; loved so much that God gave his Son for us. John wants us to marvel at this lavish love of God.

And not only has he given his Son for us, he has also given his Spirit to us, “you have an anointing from the Holy One” (2:20). The Spirit pours out the love of God into our hearts and assures us that we are children of God. So John encourages those to whom he writes to go on following Christ and not to be led away by any attractive but deadly teaching that would draw them away from him; “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us – eternal life… As his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him” (2:24-25,27).

The Spirit (this anointing) teaches us more of Christ and helps us to grow in likeness to him. So, says John, by this same Spirit, remain in Christ and go on following him. And do this in the knowledge that the best is yet to come. Already God owns us as his children because of Jesus. But his work of making us like his Son has only just begun: "Now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure" (3:2-3).

Some might be tempted to argue that the pursuit of holiness now is just too difficult and demanding. Why bother? We know that God accepts us as we are, and we know that he will make us perfectly like his Son in the day when we stand with Christ in glory. What more is necessary? ("Let us continue in sin that grace may abound"?) But John won't allow such twisted logic for he tells us, "All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure." Our hope is in Christ and we long for that day when we shall be perfectly like him. This hope, this longing, calls us to go on following him; pursuing the hope we have in him. We want now to be more like what we shall be when he appears.

And the same truth applies to our attitude to the world in which we live. We cannot write off this world and simply wait for the new world that Christ will create at his coming. What we hope for in that day will shape our prayers and endeavours day-by-day now:

As we pray and work for Jesus’ world, as we seek to repair the damage we have done and as we preach the gospel to all creation, we may catch glimpses of how things will be one day. What we are part of now can only ever be the palest reflection of that day, but just imagine all the best things of this world, all the most beautiful, most inspiring, truest and loveliest things in all creation, combined with the glorious perfection of God’s presence in heaven. Imagine God once more making his home amongst human beings (Revelation 21:3). Imagine creation set free from its bondage to decay, all things released from death and suffering, and earth and heaven reconciled to God. As followers of Jesus, let this be our vision, and let this be our mission. (Dave Bookless, Planetwise.)

Father God, help us by your Spirit to grow more like Jesus even as we shall be made perfectly like him when he appears. Help us also to bring something of the world to come into this present world that your will may be done on earth even as it is done in heaven.

Peter Misselbrook