1 John 1:1-4. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
How do we normally describe our lives? Times? Places? Experiences? Feelings?
John’s opening argument in his first epistle is that life is not about a time, or a place, or even a state of being. For John life is a person. Jesus. The Jesus he heard, and saw, and touched. The one he leaned on at Passover Seders. The one he fished with, ate with, sang and cried and laughed with.
For John, Jesus is the word of life. Not the word ABOUT life. The word (logos) OF life. Jesus is God’s own self-expression of what life for mankind is meant to be. You see, John is not primarily concerned with what Jesus taught, or what miracles he performed, or even the details of how he lived. He is concerned with who Jesus is – the sacrifice that cleanses us from all sin (1:7). If we don’t get who Jesus is right, we will never experience Christ (fellowship), and we will never experience Christian community (more fellowship), and we will never experience joy.
Some think that eternal life is being absorbed into some “universal soul.” Others think we become chubby angels floating on clouds for eternity. Or maybe we just stand around singing in the heavenly choir forever.
But that’s not life. And it’s definitely not eternal life. How do I know? Because it’s not a relationship with Jesus. And it’s not an experience of his sacrificial life.
Eternal life IS Jesus. And now, in Christ, eternal life is an experience of Jesus Christ that every Christian can and should be having each and every day of their life. John calls it fellowship. Koinonia. Partnership. Sharing. WITH God! With the Father. With the Son. By the Spirit. Because we have Jesus as our life, we are living a shared experience of life with the God-head. A common reality and purpose. The same joys. The same pains. The same love and glory. And the same path to love and glory through self-sacrifice.
This is the fellowship that John wants his readers to experience with the Father and with the Son, and that he wants us to experience with one another. He wants us to mutually experience our union with Christ, and in this experience to find complete joy. Not joy from the times, and places, and experiences of life. But joy from the experiencing of the person of Jesus. The joy of a mystical union with Christ. A union with Christ so true and so deep that we begin to think what he thinks (1 Cor. 2:16), and feel what he feels (Phil. 1:8), and choose what he chooses (1 Pt. 3:16).
Truly there must be an experience of God and of Christ that goes beyond just doing “Christian” things, or learning Christian doctrine (however important these may be). Union with Christ must be experiential, mustn’t it? Just like our fellowship with one another must be experiential too. And what is this fellowship that we share with one another? Isn’t it our shared experiences of Jesus and his life, and his love?
If you were casually sitting around with a group of Christians what would you talk about? Would you talk about Jesus? Your experience of him? In what ways would your experiences of Christ all sound the same? How might they sound different? If you could only talk about Jesus, how long would the conversation last? Minutes? Hours? Days? Our answers to these kinds of questions describes our fellowship with one another and with Christ (or lack thereof).
Remember, John’s not writing from logic or reason here. He’s writing from his experience of a person – Jesus, and his life. Have you had this authentic experience of Christ? Are you living in this fellowship with him and with the Father God? Are you living in his love? His grace? Are you thinking, feeling, and choosing like he does? Selflessly? And, just as important, are you living in this fellowship of Christ with others?
If you’re not, then you’re probably not experiencing Jesus as God intends. Your joy probably isn’t full. And “to live is Christ” is probably not how you describe your life.
But it can be.
1 John 1:7. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
How would you describe your life?
You in Christ
Are you experiencing fellowship with God and his Son, Jesus? How or how not?
Christ in you
Where might you seek a shared experience of Chris with others (fellowship) this week?
Playlist: Fellowship With Christ.
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