“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.” (I John 3:1 – 2a)
What does it mean to be “children of God”? It is spoken and preached to us what we should do as children of God; but what does that mean for us? I mean, how should the world see us and relate to us? If the Divine is revealed and understood to & by the world, then we will experience how our treatment should be. Ah, that is a double-edge sword though. If the world accepts the Divine and responds to the Lord God as authentic Christians who have taken compassion and care as their watchwords, then we – as children of God – will be treated well. And we, as part of that believing world we treat others well.
Maybe, however, the writer of I John means what we will become after the Divine is revealed – that is, returns to claim the Divine’s own.
“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.” (Verses 2a – 6)
I admit, beloved reader, I am struggling to follow the stream of thinking that the writer of I John has. Each time I think I know where his thinking and theology is bound for, he changes course. It is, for lack of a better term, an optimistic stance. And a bit uncomfortable too. There is a sense of “us” who believe, and “them” who will probably never believe. And a culmination that will reveal how wrong “them” were about “us.” And maybe that is what I am sensing; there there is consolation here for those who have been hard pressed. And comfort for those who have suffered much. And hope & encouragement to stay the course, and that it will be a short “course”.
“Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” (Verse 7)
That is a big leap for us; we know the Divine is righteous. And, yes, if we do what is “right”, then we will be righteous. And worthy to be called children of God. Still, that is a big claim for members of humanity. Since the time of the writer of I John and the other epistles, and the writing of the gospels – Christianity has changed. And so has what is considered “right.” You would think, beloved reader, there would be core essentials to what is doing “good” in the eyes of the Lord God. And what actions and attitudes identify children of God.
May you, beloved reader, determine who you are as a child of God, and how that determines your place in the world. Shalom & Selah!