Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Seeing the Children of God

We had a family wedding this weekend, and I had the opportunity to spend time with members of our extended family. Now that my parents, aunts, and uncles have reached the age that their parents were when I knew them as my grandparents, I enjoy seeing the physical resemblances and characteristic behaviors that they have inherited from my grandparents. It reminds me of those who died years ago. My children did not know any of my grandparents. I am thankful that my wife got to know my mother's father so that she can join me in telling my children about their great-grandfather, but, for the most part, no one in our nuclear family other than me makes those connections with a previous generation.

In Sunday's epistle lesson, John writes, "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are." Because of Jesus, we are now identified as God's children, and, indeed, that is what we truly are. But John lets us know that our identity as God's children can be hard to see.

The world can't see it. This system (the Greek word is κόσμος) doesn't recognize who we are because, John writes, it did not know him, who is Jesus, the Son of God. To understand the pronoun "him," you have to go back to the previous chapter. In 1 John 2:24, the author exhorts his readers, writing, "Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father." This sense of abiding continues through the end of chapter 2 and into the beginning of chapter 3. Our abiding in him is enabled by Jesus himself, who, through God's love, makes us God's children not only in appearance but in substance. In the Greek text used to produce the NRSV and most other translations, that point is made emphatically: we are called God's children, and that is what we are! I notice, however, that the Interlinear Greek Bible doesn't include that second phrase. This morning, I am grateful that I kept my Nestle-Aland Greek NT out of storage when we moved offices because, when I get to the office, I'm going to pull it out and look at 1 John 3:1 and see what manuscript differences there are behind that variation. But I digress...

We are children of God, but the world cannot see it. Can we? John seems to anticipate that question as he continues, writing, "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." In other words, we are already God's children, but what we will become--fully like him--is to be revealed in the resurrection, when the world finally and completely is transformed by the reign of God. In the meantime, he is encouraging us to see ourselves as we truly are--to look with proleptic sight and see what has not fully been revealed.

Most of the time, when I look at myself, I see what doesn't resemble God. The challenges, struggles, and sin present themselves so much more clearly than the God-made perfections. I suspect that's true for most of us. On this Third Sunday of Easter, John asks us to look at ourselves through resurrection eyes and see what the world cannot see. The only way we see it is by faith. We are children of God--daughters and sons of the Almighty. See what love the Father has for us. Let us see it in ourselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.