1 John 1:1-5
1 We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— 3 we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.
1 Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first,[a] to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
TELL ME ABOUT
- A MOVIE YOU HAVE SEEN?
- A RESTAURANT YOU HAVE DINED IN?
- SOMETHING YOU DID ON VACATION?
- WHAT YOUR GRANDCHILDREN ARE DOING?
- AN ACTIVITY FROM FOURTH OF JULY?
DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU ARE DOING?
- attestation of a fact or event
- one that gives evidence specifically
- one asked to be present at a transaction so as to be able to testify to its having taken place
- one who has personal knowledge of something
We find it easy to talk about our lives and witness to what is going on with our families, but difficult to share our faith.
Missionary Hunter Farrell tells about his work on behalf of the church: Two Congolese colleagues and I traveled for three months in a Chevrolet Impala in eight PC(USA) presbyteries, sharing with 66 congregations about mission work in the Congo. We had worked together at the Presbyterian seminary at Ndesha (Democratic Republic of the Congo) for several years, and as we itinerated across the presbyteries, we shared stories of poverty and hope, oppression and liberation, and sensitive, culturally appropriate pastoral care resulting in church growth. After this exhausting, exhilarating mission marathon of Sunday worship services, midweek Bible studies, women’s circles and more potluck meals than you can count, one of my Congolese companions looked at me and asked,
“We’ve talked with hundreds of Presbyterians in these weeks, and we haven’t heard one person share about what God has done in their life. Why is that?”
Rev Farrell said he was left speechless.
Over time He realized that society was much more secularized and that most Christians found it difficult to talk about their own faith, about prayer and about God’s power in their life. The thought of actually sharing one’s faith with another person — well, that was more than a little awkward. We are not the first community to struggle with what we believe and what do we share about Christ. The community to whom 1 John was written was facing a crisis.
Former members of the community were denying that Jesus was truly the Messiah, God’s flesh and blood, fully human, son. Like many churches facing doctrinal conflict, 1 John’s community seems to have been confused, afraid, and unsure what to do. Whom should they believe? How could they know what was true, and what was not? How should they react? What should we share about Jesus?
1 John’s simple, confident response is as relevant today as it was when the letter was first written:
You know who you are,
you know whose you are,
and you know what you have been told from the beginning. God’s own Spirit shows us what is true. There’s no need to panic or argue. Focus on living your faith instead. God has the whole situation under control.
1 John reminds the community that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah — the anointed Son of God — has been born of God. They have no reason to be afraid, for they belong to God. As God’s children, they can rest assured that they are loved and protected by their divine parent. As God’s children they might testify to what Christ is doing in their life. That is true for 1 John’s community and that is true for us today. We are called to be witnesses. We are called to share the Good News in our lives. We are called to share the faith.
The task for us today is the tell the story of what God has done in our lives. We are called to be witnesses to the saving work of Jesus Christ. In “A Room Called Remember,” Frederick Buechner proclaimed
“We have it in us to be Christs to each other and maybe in some unimaginable way to God too—that’s what we have to tell finally. We have it in us to work miracles of love and healing as well as to have them worked upon us. We have it in us to bless with him and forgive with him and heal with him and once in a while maybe even to grieve with some measure of his grief at another’s pain and to rejoice with some measure of his rejoicing at another’s joy almost as if it were our own. And who knows but that in the end, by God’s mercy, the two stories will converge for good and all, and though we would never have had the courage or the faith or the wit to die for him any more than we have ever managed to live for him very well either, his story will come true in us at last. And in the meantime, this side of Paradise, it is our business (not like so many peddlers of God’s word but as men and women of sincerity) to speak with our hearts (which is what sincerity means) and to bear witness to, and live out of, and live toward, and live by, the true word of his holy story as it seeks to stammer itself forth through the holy stories of us all.”
I invite you to share your holy stories. Share your faith. Be a witness of what Christ has done and is doing in your life.
Commentary provided by Hunter Farrell, Brian Petersone, Frederick Buechner, Scott Hoezee, Judith Jones, and David Bartlett