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. 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. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. [NRSV]
This text embodies the simple yet life-changing message of salvation.
- God loves us
- God loves us even when we rebel and reject
- Goes does not force us to love but hopes we will trust Christ
- God knows we deceive and are deceived
- God Be in God is to be whole, sin does not exist.
- God calls us to be in the truth
Preventing Grace/Love: The Love the God has for us started before we were created, before we were born, before we came into this word, God was already loving us.
As United Methodist, we call this love the first part of our salvation. God loves the world, and all of us in the world. This does not mean that everyone is behaving, acting or thinking in ways that reflect God’s love. The starting point is God’s love for us, for us all.
As United Methodist, we call this love God’s preventative love. The love that goes first. As every loving parent loves the child before they are born, hoping and dreaming of the life and joy they will experience and become. (The truth of the human example is that not every parent loves their child. Not every parent hopes and dreams for the life that child might become. Not every parent knows how to love and certainly not love selflessly)
Our salvation is not based on our parent’s love, it is grounded in God’s eternal love, that Goes first.
This preventative love shows the example of love, trust, and hope for a shared relationship. Remember the first time you made yourself vulnerable to express to someone that you loved them and they rejected or ignored your feelings or declaration? It is emotionally painful, but we find other persons or other times that persons are ready and able to love and we try again.
Saving Grace/Justifying Grace: The second express of love that forms our faith and relationship as a Christian, as a child of God, is God’s second dose of loving us, not in our ignorance, but in our rejection of ignorance of God’s love. God sends his son, Jesus, to express human love and relationship.
Through sin: pride, greed, longing for self-reliance, and self-determination we declare: “I want” or “I need” or “I must” or “Look at what I made” and we in our immaturity and foolishness we express the world is for our purpose and our benefit. We grow and mature looking for rational and measurable ways to prove what we can measure, calculate, predict, plan and control and we leave little to no room for the love shared with God. It is self-love.
It is for self-loving people that Jesus came to show God’s love was extended first and continues to be offered even when we close the door to God’s love. God continues to love us; God continues to hope we will love in return.
The Cross of Jesus is God’s gift of grace that says, First I loved you when you didn’t know how to love and now I love you even when you reject, refuse, ignore or deny my love.
Note: For all the love God shows, God does not force love upon us. That would void any room for love in our relationship with God.
Christ is God’s second offer over love. This act of sacrificial love proves the nature of God’s love and the power and reality that sin is that which keeps us from returning love, trust, and faith in God’s love.
Can you remember a time when you reach out to help someone who may have hurt you in the past and you offer to try to renew or restore the relationship and yet they spurn, reject, ignore you even more? God’s love stands as an eternal love that spans all time and all generations. What Jesus did by allowing his life to be given for ours make a way for us to find God even when we burned our bridges.
As a child, I had the privilege of living near the woods, near a creek, both were filled with God’s creatures and seasons. The creek was deeper than I felt safe to wade across and I would find limbs and old board to try and reach to the other side, but being unable to reach the distance and not able to withstand the force of the stream, and unable to secure both sides without the current dragging my efforts away. I required someone who could bridge the distance.
Through the sacrificing love of the Cross, Jesus makes a way through sin, for me. He proves and paves a way to God, even where I have failed.
As United Methodist we acknowledge that God loves us, acting first and acting knowing our sin, through Christ.
Sanctifying Grace/Love: The third expression of love comes in the process of “abiding in God.”
You’ve heard a parent say something like: “as long as you are living in this house you will follow my word.” As a rebellious child we press the limits of these in our process of maturing. Especially if they “House Rules” are not loving. God’s law is eternally grounded in love.
We live in a give-and-take process of learning and practicing what it means to love as God loves. We grow practicing and testing what it means to trust God’s love, when we convince ourselves and others we have such great alternative choices. The choice eternally remains for us to choose how we see the world is better than God’s way, but that comes at the cost of our relationship.
Perfecting Grace/Love: The final expression of God’s love and grace is when we are in the heart of God.
There is not sin, no distance, no separation present; sin has no reality there. We are whole. We are promised this in eternity and we also experience moments in our faith journey in this lifetime. This is our shared journey.
The invitation of First John is to the community of faith, like ours, that knows God’s love, but we are called to be loved, love and grow in love in would that:
- Loves it self
- Love is defined by each individual
- Love that not love but is temporary gratification
- Love that is only physical and not eternal
- Love that is contrived and manipulated.
- Love that is not love AT ALL.
God is doubling down on LOVE being the language and path for our relationships.
We find it impossible to love some people.
Our seeming impossible to love in some circumstances.
This is where we point to the deception where the world is calling Love and Good and Truth that none of the above.
The most loving thing to do for one who is blind is to clear their path, help them when need help and let them practice seeing until sight is given in heaven.
The same is true in all our earthly relationships. (Do not home, do good, practice the path toward God.
What our of our differences in this broken and sin-filled world?? [ Look to 1 John 3:1-7 ]
See what love the Father has given us
that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are.
- Seek the truth of God’s love and know God loves us.
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
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.
- When the way is unclear, know the truth looks like GOD’s love.
And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. [WHOLE]
- We complete the cycle of love, when we find ourselves in God’s love.
Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
- When we don’t trust God, our hearts are not in God’s.
- We live in a world filled with those who run from God, twist God’s word, and don’t love.
You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.
- To live in God is to be free from Sin.
- To live in God is to be in the truth.
Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
- We are frequently and easily deceived and mislead others.
- Just because a group says this is love, does not make it so..
God loves us even in our sin, hoping that we grow out of sin, toward wholeness in him.
Some people are born with an easier journey toward God
Some are born with a more difficult path
If the path is not leading someone to God, it is not the right path.
We come into the world that is sinful and divided, Our goal is to find our way to God’s heart
We cannot find our way to God’s heart without confronting our sin and the sins of the world.
If we excuse each other to remain in sin, we forfeit the God’s gifts of grace for self and others.
Where divided people call on the name of God that they are following the TRUTH
Know the power of deception is enormous, we must be willing to question ourselves and learn from one another, learning from our failure rather than fueling our division.
The final word in this passage is about deception, the final challenge is to NOT deceive nor be deceived.
- The greatest threat to God’s love is that that we listen to a voice other than the voice of God.
- The first story of faith in the scripture is the children and a talking snake, the children listen to the snake instead of listening and trusting God. Sin follows sin corrupts, sin divides.
- 1 Jn 3 vs7 The Right path, the right direction, the way to God, has nothing to do with my opinion, nor my theology, not my understanding, nor my experience. It is about our continuing to find our selves right when we belong, together, IN God.
Where we are divided, we are separated from God: What must we do to return to the heart of God.
Here is the call for us to lay down our traditions, our brains, our opinions, our faith and place ourselves at God’s direction. God will complete all that follows. (the sins we struggle with are not as much the Top Ten, but the little assumptions, fears and ignoring when God is with us, to love and help us, always.