Transforming Love (1 John 3:1-2)
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. Beloved, 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 3:1-2
A woman in labor cries out in anguish. The birth pains finally give way to the unspeakable joy of the wailing cry of a newborn baby. Held close by an exhausted mother, the inspection begins. He has his daddy’s eyes and nose, his mother’s chin and dimpled cheeks! His hair is jet black like his Papa’s! All children bear the likeness of their family. Shared DNA with kin leaves all children with an undeniable resemblance to their clan.
This is the sense that we have in 1 John 3:1-2. The children of God will bear resemblance to their heavenly Father. There will be a family likeness among those born of God. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
You are a child of God because God is love. You belong to Him because it pleased Him to love you. What does this love look like? The ESV does not rightly capture the magnitude of God’s love. The NIV translates verse 1 as “See what kind of love the Father has lavished on us!” Love lavished is love freely given, abundant and beyond expectation. It carries the sense of an abiding, permanent love, given in a way that it becomes a part of us. This is what the Apostle means when he says God is love (4:8), and because God’s seed abides in you (3:9), you ought to love one another (4:11).
Meditate on this reality: In Jesus, the Father has abundantly and freely overwhelmed you with his love. It is a sacrificial love (John 15:13; Romans 5:8); an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3); a never-ceasing love (Lamentations 3;22); a steadfast love (Exodus 20:6); a sanctifying love (Ephesians 5:25-27); a covenant love (Ezekiel 16:1-14); a life-giving love (Ephesians 2:4-5); and a purpose-accomplishing love (“We are the children of God!”). God loves you in Christ!
John reminds you of this because you may not always feel the love of God. There are many hardships in the life. “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” The unbelieving world is opposed to God and under the power of the evil one (3:4-10). You will rarely be respected and loved by the world.
So John anchors the hope of love to the promise of future grace and glory. You are God’s child now, but what you are experiencing now is a shadow of the substance that is to come through faith in Jesus Christ. One day God will finally and irreversibly make right all that is wrong in our lives. One day there will be no more sin, sickness, and sorrow. One day there will be no more struggle and strife in your relationships. The day is coming when anxiety will give way to peace, lust will give way to contentment, and sadness will give way to joy. This is the promise of abiding in Jesus. One day you will see Jesus in all of his heavenly glory and moral perfection, and you will be like him when the Father completes the work He has started in you. This is the promise of God’s love for you in Christ.
How does meditating on God’s lavish love for you in Christ affect your heart?
How might God’s lavish love for you in Christ re-calibrate your perspective during trials and suffering?
How does the hope of future grace and transformation help you persevere in Christ?