OUR FELLOWSHIP IS WITH THE FATHER
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you may also have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. (1 John 1: 3-4)
John makes it clear from the start that he was not propagating another religion in opposition to the religions that were already in the world. He was writing of something far deeper and more real than that. He testified to being an eyewitness of what had happened when God broke into history through the coming of His Son into the world. He had seen, heard and touched the one who had come from the Father. There was no denying the witness of someone who had been that close, especially when there were others to back up his story.
But what was the purpose of Jesus’ coming? Did He come from God to tell the people of the world how sinful they were and to bring judgment on them from an angry God? No way!
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3: 17)
What did He mean by “saved”? Salvation, in modern times has been pared down to mean “saved from hell so that we can go to heaven when we die.” Is that the best that Jesus could do; shed His blood so that we can have a passport to heaven? What about now? Do we just go on living as we have and hold on until we die?
Salvation from God’s perspective, is far bigger than that. When Adam and Eve plunged the world into darkness by their disobedience, it affected every part of creation. Every creature, every plant and tree was doomed to die. Animals turned on each other; humans turned on each other and, worst of all, we turned on God and became His enemies. The fellowship God so delighted in with His children went out the window and the people God created to be His beloved children were thrown out to make their own way in life, which was the choice they made.
But God didn’t leave it there. He went to enormous trouble to prepare a nation – one He painstakingly built from one childless couple whom He trained to trust Him, to obey Him and to raise their miracle-born son to do the same – to receive His Son when the time came. It took many centuries and much frustration on God’s part to bring them to the point where He could send His Son into the world, born among them into a human family as a helpless infant, raised by a godly couple to show His people what He was really like.
What was His intention? Just to rescue people from hell so that they could go to heaven? What a pathetic purpose if that was all He could do! No, Jesus came, first of all, to reveal the heart of the Father. Was He the demanding, disciplinarian God His representatives, the religious leaders made Him out to be? Far from it! He was a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. The prophets of the Old Testament knew that and taught and wrote about it, but His people ignored what they said because they were bent on rebellion.
Jesus specifically came to show His people that God was a gracious and loving Father. He, Jesus, was the exact replica of His Father. But He did something even more wonderful than that. He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father and then gave His life as though He were a sinner, so that sinners could be reconciled to their Father.
Why did He do it? Just to save sinners from hell? No, He did it so that sinners could be forgiven, washed clean of all their sin, given a new heart, a new start and restored to God’s family as His holy and beloved sons and daughters. But best of all, from the moment of their “new birth”, their new beginning, they are restored to fellowship with the Father. That was the problem. They were out of fellowship with Him. In spite of their rebellion against God, they were still in a relationship with Him as His children, although they were estranged from Him because of sin. This happens in families the world over all the time. Kids rebel, run away and dissociate themselves from the parents. This does not make them “unborn”. It cuts them off from fellowship with their families.
God’s desire, when Jesus did all this for us, was to bring us back into fellowship with Himself, not when we die, but here and now. And He did it! Jesus died to clear away all the barriers to fellowship and to restore everything that we lost through sin so that we can be one with the Father again. Fellowship with the Father has great benefits for us – the more time we spend with Him, the more we get to know Him and become like Him, shedding our old self-centred ways and learning to do what pleases Him.
But perhaps the greatest benefit of all is learning to do God’s will so that His purposes on earth are fulfilled through us. That’s what fellowship with the Father accomplished for Jesus. John’s gospel is full of assurances that Jesus lived in such harmony with the Father than they did everything in tandem. No one could accuse Jesus of sin because He only said and did what He heard the Father saying and doing. How did He learn these things from the Father? Through many hours of fellowship with Him.
With no more obstacles in the way, John assured his readers that they, and we, can also have fellowship with those who are one with the Father and with the Father and the Son. And how that delights the heart of God, fulfilling His desire from the beginning!
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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