Lesson 2: Experiencing the Word of Life
The topic of this week’s lesson was on 1 John 1:1-4. Three themes come into focus in this dense, but short, passage: Jesus as the Word of Life, John and the Apostles as eyewitnesses, and Us as those who, in pure joy, join in fellowship with the Father and the Son.
That Jesus is the Word of Life is both without need of explanation and beyond explanation. It is simultaneously the most crucial and incomprehensible truth that confronts mankind. As Paul explains to the Athenians on Mars Hill, “in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28).
John also emphasizes the fact that he, and others, are eyewitnesses to this word of life: they have seen, heard, and touched The Source. He was as real to to them as anything else, and because of that, “they cannot stop speaking about what [they] have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20). But the Word of Life is not a dead God. He is resurrected! He lives today! So we are invited to be eyewitnesses ourselves. Many of us have stories where we simply cannot deny that we have seen, heard, or felt the risen Christ. I recently had a friend who was starting to experience severe health problems. He eventually realized that they began when he stopped giving Tithe, and when he merely purposed in his heart to start giving again, his health problems almost completely vanished! He called me right away, and could not stop speaking excitedly about it…and neither could I to others who were around me. Like John, we became eyewitnesses, and just would not shut up about it (even as I’m writing to you right now).
But an eyewitness is not someone who merely sees; it is someone who sees and then tells. It is so important to share these experiences, not only for those who do not believe, but also for your fellow brothers and sisters; to encourage them in the faith, and to give them new perspectives on Jesus. C.S. Lewis once wrote that when a good friend died, he not only lost that friend, but also part of other friends in the same group. He experienced friend A through the friendship of friend B, and vice versa. Somehow, there was less of everybody in his circle of brothers when that one friend departed. The same is true with our relationship with God. I have learned so many things about God through other people’s relationship with Him, that I am scared to imagine how little I would know about God if I were on my own. That is not to say I don’t have a relationship of my own, or that it’s OK to live only off other’s experiences, but the fellowship in God is one of the most precious aspects of our faith.
Which brings us to John’s third focus: our fellowship in God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Church, His children. John preaches so that we “too may have fellowship,” with both God and others. And in that unique, mutually-affirming fellowship, “our joy [is] made complete.” (1 John 1:4). Yet again, I am an eyewitness to this truth: my joy has never been complete when I have rejected or lacked the fellowship of believers. We, together, are the Bride of Christ, and no matter how society and culture changes, a severed hand or ear is not marriage material, only the whole person.
How have you been an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ lately? What has God done in your life, where you just can’t keep quiet? Are you experiencing the joy of fellowship, are have you denied that joy to others and yourself?