Last Sunday was unique. It happens only once every year in my tradition. Since it was the second Sunday of Advent, we sang carols and took time to remember the birth of Jesus. Since it was the first Sunday of the month, we celebrated the Lord’s Supper, and took time to remember his death. Birth and death, powerfully juxtaposed in one service.
We meditated on the profound humility and love of God. Which do you think demonstrated his love and humility more—that Jesus died for us, or that he emptied himself and was born as a human?
When I turned to this week’s devotional text, I found another truth that demonstrates the love and humility of God even further: he calls us his children.
In this devotion, we’ll look at the profound depth of God’s love, the great revealing, and the purpose of it all.
. . .
The profound depth of God’s love.
Stott says it well. God’s love is not simply shown or demonstrated, but “lavished on us”. You can hear the amazement in John’s words: he points it out twice:
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. (v. 1 NRSV, emphasis mine)
It seems like John got to the end of his thought and in further amazement blurted out: “that is what we are”!
Stewart Townend’s “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” captured this profound truth in music.
. . .
The great revealing.
I love John’s honesty in verse 2: “what we will be has not yet been revealed” (NRSV). If only us modern preachers would have a hint of that honesty about us when we talk about the end times! Somethings just are just not known to us yet.
But other things are.
Although God hasn’t revealed precisely what we will be like, we do know a few powerful truths:
- We are God’s children now
- Jesus will be revealed in the future
- When Jesus is revealed, we will be like him as we see him
That’s more than enough revelation to live on. Here Bultmann on the third point:
In 2 Cor 3:18 it is said that the vision of the glorified one transfigures those beholding into glorified ones.
Here’s the text from 2 Corinthians that Bultmann refers to:
All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NRSV)
Moses comes to mind when I consider this. When he returned from spending time with God on Mt. Sinai, his face shone so greatly that it startled people. Simply observing God will transform us into his likeness.
. . .
The purpose of it all.
This transformation into his likeness has already begun for believers. While the physical metamorphosis into the likeness of Christ will have to wait, the moral and ethical transformation has already begun.
The reason John spent this time sharing about the coming revelation of Jesus was not so we could meditate on the theology, as sublime as it is. The purpose of it all is to motivate his church to continue traveling down the long road of sanctification. Since we’ll be like him completely one day, why not further the process now?
This emphasis recalls 2:28, when John reminded his people to do right because God is righteous. In fact, the verses we looked at today are book-ended by these two exhortations to conform our lives to Jesus.
Let’s anticipate that full revealing today.