I love being around children and young people because I always find myself wondering what they will become as adults.
I look at those little faces at school and wonder what that face will look like when all grown up.
I love that thing they do at Redeemer and Faith at end of year graduation time. As part of the graduation ceremony, to ever-adoring parents all gathered, they show a quick-fire collage of each student’s school photos.
For the children who have been in the school all the way through, it is amazing to see what they have become from what they were. The faces have changed, the bodies have grown. Life is taking its unstoppable course and it is full of energy and possibility!
John is expressing something similar in terms of who we are becoming in Christ.
John says we are God’s kids and we have grown this far and still are growing, no matter old we are.
We have been born into this new creation kingdom of grace. God has ‘lavished’ his grace upon grace upon us in his Son.
By his Spirit we are growing up in this gracious place; this state of grace. We are becoming someone and something our Father is creating us and sustaining us to be.
But John is a realist. He acknowledges that we find it hard to see this; trust this.
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.
John knows that we just cannot see it all and be it all or know it all before God makes it all happen.
I think we know this. I often reflect on just how much I cannot see.
I remember the past and wonder how on earth I got here. If you had of told me that I would be a Pastor in the Lutheran Church in the Barossa Valley SA when I was a student at St Joseph’s catholic primary school in the small town of Mullewa in the norther wheatbelt of WA aged seven, I would not have known what or where you were talking about. I had no idea what a pastor was, what a Lutheran was and what and where the Barossa Valley is.
How about you? What have you become, and did you know that this would be you? Or what would you like to become but are not sure that your vision is God’s vision for you?
What is your guess on God’s vision for you five years on from here? Nothing new? Nothing different? Still growing? Still learning? Still marvelling at the lavish love of the Lord Jesus for you, or unsure, unseen, unknown?
John is very aware that we struggle to trust that the Lord always transforming us from one likeness of his Son Jesus to another. He says we struggle to trust this truth when two things are happening:
- Suffering, and
- False teaching.
John has talked about false teaching. We live in this ‘Anti-Messiah’ place called ‘the world’. It is the place where godlessness rules: where there is no gospel light. It is the place of false teaching and false teachers.
Sometimes it is easy to notice. What you hear is plain dark and evil and pain-filled. Other times anti-messiah power Is really hard to see. It seems like light; morally pure, creating many technologies and things, helping people ‘become who they are’ and ‘find themselves’ and etc – but with zero reference to, acknowledgement of, reliance on or thanks to the God of all creation and all love.
At the root of the falseness is a denial of Jesus the Christ; that Jesus is who he says he is, God with us and for us in love in all Jesus became for us; human, wounded, shamed, Saviour, victor over death and bringer of new life……
‘Jesus rules’, says John. But we this ‘anti-messiah world, this wayward anti-messiah heart within and or course the ‘anti-messiah himself are all still active.
It seems that more than has ever been in the last 50 years, our kids and we are being shaped by this anti-Jesus world.
All of this ‘anti-messiah’ false teaching is in our pockets, accessible 24/7. In bedrooms, family rooms, thankfully, not in school rooms now, the waves of ‘the world’s ‘messiah-less’ teaching are washing over us via our devices, and the occasional real person!
Thank God for the many parents who take teaching their children the truth of the Word seriously.
John is fully aware that it is so easy for any of us to believe false teaching. Things like ‘I need to make myself because no one else will’. Or ‘I need to become who I want to be’, or ‘trust my own instincts’, way more than the words of the Word of Life.
And then there is suffering. It is hard to trust that you are growing in Jesus when all you feel like is that you’re shrinking in fear and pain.
When you feel like you are stalled on the side of life’s road or actually just about dead, it is hard to see that unstoppable growth in faith and love you saw in the kids.
Suffering forces us to ask, “Where is God’s lavish love then? Where is this unstoppable growth like we see in the kids and growth into God’s vision and shape for me when all I feel is alone, abandoned, unsure or just plain worn out?”
Yes, we need to ‘force our way through to faith’ – get those three coverings off – the blankets of the “Unholy Trinity” – the anti-messiah world, the anti-messiah human drive within, and the anti-Messiah himself.
Faith in what Jesus has become for the world and for me lifts the three covers and shows us again that we are indeed becoming God’s man, God’s woman, God’s young person – all God’s children, no matter what.
But how? Well, faith always comes from hearing the truth of the love of God in his Word. Hearing the truth of the Word created the faith and the covers disappear …
But what helps hear that word, lift those covers, trust again that we are moving toward a good goal, a great end, a new day and a grace-filled way?
There is that marker flag out I the distance across no man’s land. It will be safe there.
We shall be like Jesus and we will see Jesus as he is in all his full love and glory.
Jesus is that marker flag showing us where to get to the final victory. He will appear and everyone will see him – the anti-messiah himself, the anti-messiah world and the anti-messiah drive at work in me.
Our future will be real, as ‘naked’ and close as Adam and Eve in the beginning without any hint of shame – just the joy of finally knowing, finally seeing, finally being known completely, and accepted fully as we finally see who we really have become in Jesus.
And so, I usually style, John now simply says – live it.
In whatever battle you are now engaged and whatever false teaching to which you are attached, break through to faith again, friend.
Listen to this Apostle’s faith teaching you the truth of it, The covers lift and faith is yours – and from there love returns in all you are facing.
Whatever is happening for you, you are lavishly loved by the Father. Jesus the Messiah has lived it all and beat it. He is the marker to head for. The Advocate is the wisdom to navigate you there.