Identity. 1 John 3 opens with one of my favorite verses about Christian identity.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1a
To me, this verse is a near-bewildered acknowledgement of the overwhelming, abundant love which God the Father has bestowed upon me, followed by a loud proclamation that as a Christian, I really am a child of God! Amazing!
I would like to dwell on this point, positively basking in wonderment. However, after the writer eloquently establishes our unfathomable identity, we are immediately checked into real world implications and application. Take a look at these excerpts from 1 John 3:
“But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.” (1 John 3:1b)
“Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13)
One theme here is that, as believers, we are in the world, not of the world. This concept is echoed elsewhere in scripture (e.g., John 15:19, Romans 12:2). This in-but-not-of concept is so often repeated that it may seem trite.
Pause for a bit. Let this sink in.
So, Christian identity is as a child of God. Yet we don’t fit in this world. Still, here we are in this world. What shall we do to make it through? As 1 John 3:15–24 make perfectly clear, the key is true, brotherly love. Verse 18 sums it up nicely: “Dear children, let us not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”
There is a so much depth in this passage. The love described is authentic. It is action-oriented. It displays or illustrates or illuminates the truth of the Gospel. Surely, this love is not of this world!
Brothers and sisters, be encouraged today! Be confident of your identity. Acknowledge how the world may act towards you. And put on a light-show of not-of-this-world love all around you!