6 August 2012

1 John 3:1-3

"We are God’s children now" (v. 2)


There are a lot of us who find it very hard to believe that we really are children of God. How can God love us that much when there are so many more likely or deserving people around? Or how can we be the children of God when the rest of the world does not recognise us as such and at best ignores and at worst attacks us? The writer of the first letter of John has to keep telling people to hold on to the fact that they really are God's children. The fact that the rest of the world does not recognise them is because the world does not know God: so how could it acknowledge people as children of God? The writer also emphasises that it is not the case that we will only become God's children in some future life. We are already God's children "now". That does not mean, though, that we have entered a state of spiritual arrested-development. Being children of God means continuing to grow in love and to be transformed by grace as we gaze on God in Christ. It means growing in holiness (verse 2-3).

The writer almost seems to take for granted here ideas spelt out elsewhere in the New Testament. In Mark's Gospel it is not obvious to the world or - for a long time - even to his disciples that Jesus is God's son and Messiah. Yet at his Transfiguration some of the disciples see him as God sees him and as he will be in his resurrection form (Mark 9:2-6). And the apostle Paul says that as we look at the glory of God in Christ we reflect Christ's image (2 Corinthians 3:12 - 4:6). As Charles Wesley put it in his hymn "Love Divine" we are "changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place".

To ponder

  • What difference would really accepting that you are a child of God make to you?
  • Are there any signs that your development as a disciple is arrested? How might you continue to develop?
  • How do we help each other to keep our eyes on God in Christ and to allow ourselves to be changed from glory into glory?

Bible notes author

Ken Howcroft

Ken Howcroft was designated by the Conference in 2013 to be the President of the 2014 Conference. He is currently a minister of the British Conference of the Methodist Church seconded to the Methodist Church in Italy to look after the English-language Methodist Church in Rome.