Summary: In the words of C.S. Lewis, we are in the process of what we will be eternally; "immortal horrors, or everlasting splendors"
1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
Sandi Patti did a medley of songs during one of her concerts that is on her “More Than Wonderful” album. It is a funny routine and it showcases her wide range of vocal talent and it also makes a point.
In this medley she follows her progression into music from age 2 through college and she talks about how, at different stages, she wanted to be just like whoever the popular singer was at the time. First it was Karen Carpenter, then it was Barbara Streisand, then she wanted to be a great opera singer.
I can remember those days in my own life, only for me it was first The Lone Ranger, then Zorro, then Captain America, then Spider Man; then I got older and realized I couldn’t possibly be any of those fictional characters.
So I wanted to be John Wayne. Then Clint Eastwood.
I know there are exceptions and my wife is probably one of those exceptions, but I’d guess that almost every child goes through at least a short season of wanting to ‘be’ their favorite hero or heroine. Wanting to emulate their finer qualities in their own life and be looked up to for those qualities.
Well, what we call John’s first letter to the church is about wanting to be like our hero. It’s not that simple; it really covers a great deal of territory concerning love and light and truth.
But a recurring theme running throughout is to tell us what Jesus is like and encourage us to strive to be like Him, as can be discerned in the reading of the rest of this chapter.
Now here is an interesting thing to point out. Little girls don’t usually want to be some male hero, like the Incredible Hulk or Daniel Boone, and boys don’t want to be Cat Woman or Florence Nightingale.
Yet all believers in Christ are encouraged to want to be like Him because who He is and what He is so far transcends human sexuality that the thought of being ‘just like Jesus’ poses no threat whatsoever to our own identity as individuals.
In fact, the mandate of scripture is to seek to ‘abide in Him’ to the degree that our selves are as dead and our entire life is immersed in His Life. Not that we lose our identity as individuals; quite the contrary, the more identified with Him we are the more worth is given to us as individuals.
I want to narrow our focus though, from these other issues John is addressing in this letter, to just these two verses today and let’s just get a blessing thinking about what John is affirming that we are, and forecasting what we will be.
A FOREIGN-KIND OF LOVE
One language expert says that a literal translation of the first phrase in verse one would be, “Behold, what a foreign-kind of love…”
Someone else rendered it this way: “Behold, what peculiar out-of-this-world kind of love the Father has bestowed on us…”
So the intent of the original language is to convey something more than just the fact of God’s love. It is amazing! It is a sort of love that cannot be found elsewhere in this world. It is, in fact, a kind of love that anything or anyone of this world is incapable of having or even comprehending.
Now before I get too far into this to go back, let me note that the verse begins with a call to observe something. Depending on your translation it will say ‘behold’, or ‘see’, and if you have one of the lesser read translations it may use some other word but it will mean the same thing.
Unfortunately there is one popular translation that is apparently read ‘internationally’ that leaves it out altogether. That’s too bad, because John was calling his readers to pay special attention to something so they wouldn’t miss it, and that something was this out-of-this-world, utterly foreign to human emotion sort of love that God has lavished on us.
What makes this love so foreign to human experience? We only need take a look at Romans 5:6-10 to see it.
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.