See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. [²Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.] —1 John 3:1 
In the very book that affirms twice that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), we see in this text one of the most amazing displays of this very real, deep, and abiding love for those who are His own. God not only forgives us of our sin through the substitutionary work of His one and only Son (1 John 4:9-10), but then He brings us into His family as His own dear and deeply loved children. It is no wonder that John encourages us to behold this truth and marvel at its profound beauty, depth, and breadth: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1)—great and amazing love, indeed!
The honor and privilege that is ours here, as God’s own children, cannot be overstated. To think that we who were enemies of God and under His wrath, now in Christ are adopted into His very family and made heirs of all that belongs to Christ—this gladdens and humbles our hearts because we know this was God’s work completely, brought to us by sheer grace and mercy. We have done nothing, nor could we ever do anything, that would commend such lavish kindness from God.
What explains why God has done this—why has God gone to such great lengths to bring us into His family? Answer: God’s unfailing and immeasurable love for us, undeserving sinners. So, it’s no wonder that this love of God in making us His children leads to yet more.
First, it leads us to want to live in a manner that pleases and honors Him, a way the world simply does not understand. For this reason, John writes, “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” Those who follow the ways of God, as Jesus did perfectly, know the disdain of those who are living for themselves and under the bondage of sin. Even though we will never live perfectly obedient lives (see 1 John 1:8-2:2), to the extent that we do grow in following the Lord and obeying His word, we should expect the world to reject us as we follow our loving Father in loving obedience.
Second, God’s great love in making us His very children also leads God to do yet more. He takes us as the wretched sinners we were, and not only to forgive our vast sin and wickedness but, in the end, to conform us perfectly into the very likeness of His own Beloved Son. It’s one thing to have one’s debt forgiven, but it’s another thing to replace that burdensome debt with endless riches. This is the measure of God’s love for us—He not only forgives our sin, but He pledges to continue His work until we are made as happy and holy as Jesus is. It just doesn’t get better than this!
One more thought – did you notice in 1 John 3:2 just how it is that we are made like Christ? John writes that “when He [Christ] appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (italics added). Amazing, isn’t it? That as we see Christ in all of His glory, now with eyes and hearts that have been delivered from our sin, His splendor will be so compelling that we will long with all of our beings to be like this One whom we adore. Come Lord Jesus! Oh, Father, show us Jesus! And when this happens, we will be made like Him forever and ever. Praise be to God for His immeasurable, endless love.
As you read through 1 John, how many ways does John remind us of the love of God? And how should that affect the way we live our lives?
If we will be made like Christ in the end as we see Him as He is, doesn’t it make sense to see Him better now also? Consider 2 Corinthians 3:18. As we see Him more now, we are conformed now more and more to His very character. So, how can we now see Jesus better?
Given this great and immeasurable love of God for us, what are ways we can better love Him and others? Remember, this is never “pay back,” since we can never pay God back for His love for us. But don’t we want to love Him and others more in significant part because of His great love for us? How then can we love Him and others better?
Bruce A. Ware is professor of Christian Theology and chairman of the Department of Christian Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He has written several books, including his theology book for children, Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God. Bruce and his wife, Jodi, have two daughters and three grandchildren. The Wares love drives in the country, hikes in the woods, walks on the beach, and time with their daughters and son-in-law and grandchildren, along with reading and good music.