1 John – Risk love – this is real
"We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us." 1 John 1:1-2
It was the end of the 1st century. John, called to follow Jesus while a young man, possibly a teenager, was now an old man. Likely the last remaining Apostle and possibly the last remaining eye-witness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
John is writing largely to people who trusted Christ Jesus based on the testimony of someone else. These were second and third generation Christians, those who believed because their parents told them about the cross and the resurrection. Or they had heard the Apostle Paul and were convicted by his single-minded passion and they believed.
But no matter how they heard, almost all of them were like you and me, they believed in Jesus even though they had never seen Him.
So John, the disciple Jesus loved, the disciple who leaned on Jesus at the Last Supper as a child might rest against the safety of a parent (John 21:20), writes a letter to those of us who weren't there.
It is the simplest of messages: Jesus is real, the stories are true, you can risk love, you won't be hurt dear one, you will be healed.
God became a man. We saw Him, touched Him, talked with Him. He was with the Father from the beginning and now has been revealed to us. He is eternal life. You can know Him with the same intimacy as the very disciples.
"We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." (1:3)
Jesus was a real man, the promised Son of God, and His life demonstrated to the world what real love looks like.
"We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters… Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." (3:16,18)
Taking the risk to love others the way Jesus did shows that God the Holy Spirit is living in us and He is truly changing our hearts because people don't naturally love with such selfless love.
"We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us." (3:23-24)
John and the other disciples didn't just have fellowship with Jesus before the crucifixion and for a brief few weeks after His resurrection. John is saying that His fellowship with Christ has continued throughout his life with God loving people through him, with grace and mercy. And it will be the same for us.
"God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us." (4:9-13)
Jesus is real. His love is real. Forgiveness is real. Risk loving others, it is how God lives in us and how His love is revealed to others. "We love each other because He loved us first."
This is how we share in the kingdom, how we share fellowship with the Apostles and Saints, with Christ Himself. By being a selfless vessel through whom the Living Christ can continue to love people and draw them to forgiveness, healing, and wholeness.