We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete – 1 John 1:3-4
Why does John and the other apostles find it so important to tell us what they have seen and heard regarding their interaction with Jesus? So important that they would constantly risk their lives and eventually lay down their lives to make sure we heard their testimony?
All the apostle except for one, John suffered violent deaths. They had an easy method of escape, simply recant and renounce their testimony. However, all of the apostles choose martyrdom, intense horrific torture rather than recant their testimony. Both Andrew and his brother Peter were crucified, with Peter being crucified upside down. The apostle James, John’s brother was beheaded as was Mattias & Paul. Bartholomew was skinned alive and later beheaded. Although the apostle John, who wrote this book, is believed to be the only apostle who died a normal death from old age, it wasn’t from a lack of trying to kill him. He too faced horrific torture but miraculously survived being boiled alive in oil. Since this didn’t kill him, he was then imprisoned on an island.
Why? What was so important and valuable to them that not just one of them but all of them would endure such suffering and not just once but continuously? This wasn’t a onetime event for them, but a chosen lifestyle of suffering for a message to be heard by us and for a person to be made known to us.
In verse 3 of 1John chapter 1, John tells us his goal, his purpose and dream for us that enables them to endure such suffering, that we might have fellowship with them, by sharing in their fellowship with God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. Our sharing in the sweet fellowship they had with God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son not only enabled them to endure such suffering, it made their joy complete.
Have you ever known such a relationship with another person that was so sweet, so magnificent that you would willingly suffer such torturous deaths rather than renounce it, and so that others might experience the same joy that was found in that relationship themselves? This is what we see in the apostles and even in Christian martyrs today.
Is this your view of Christianity?
To become a Christian is to be brought into a family relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ his Son and share a relationship with them along with many, many other adopted brothers and sisters; whose joy is increased every time a new child of God is brought home to be loved on.
Many of these brothers and sisters remember. They remember what life was like before they knew God. Others met Christ in childhood and just can’t imagine what life would be like without knowing God, as their Father caring, protecting and providing for them. They see others hurt and struggling and beg them to come and meet their Father who heals and meets all their needs. There is no jealousy here. They are not territorial. They know their Father’s house is large, his love is abundant, his resources are endless and his mercy and grace cannot be contained but continually overflow and reach out to all those who are drawn near to him.
They know their Father loves justice. He is a strong protector, a defender of the weak and ally to the humble. He will save all those who call out to him and be their refuge and shelter. As a result, these brothers and sisters actively go out and seek the lost, the lonely, the broken and rejected of the world to show them the love of the Father and the love of Christ so they might enjoy Him too. They seek more fellowship, deeper relationships with others and hate anything that separates them from God and each other: anger, bitterness, impatience, resentment, hatred, lying, jealousy, pride, arrogance, lewdness, drunkenness, murder….
They love anything that draws them closer to God and to each other, forgiveness, patience, compassion, mercy, grace, hope, honesty, humility, meekness, authenticity, faithfulness, and unconditional love. It is these attributes that God calls us to continually practice and put on as his children and as imitators of Him because it through the practicing of these attributes, even if it results in adversity and suffering to us, that prevent the severing of our relationships. God not only invites us into a relationship with him, but he also seeks to restore our relationships with others.
It is God the Father, the God of relationship, who designed the family unit who teaches us how to relate to him and one another through our relationship to Christ. When God enters our relationships, he makes them holy and eternalizes them as he eternalizes everything else he touches. Our temporary relationships become eternal relationships. Our broken relationships become reconciled relationships through forgiveness and grace. Our conditional love because unconditional love as God shows us our own weaknesses and teaches us to bear with others as they grow and to practice forgiveness.
Our unsafe relationships become pruned relationships that are torn from us because of the damage they inflict on our hearts. However, many of these relationships God in his great mercy, salvages and brings back into our lives restored and made whole because of our desperate prayers for God to remember and love them as he has loved us. In this way, God makes our own joy full and complete when others come to share in the fellowship we have with Him and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Our wishful thinking and impossible dreams becomes miraculous realities when we are able to enjoy new relationships with others. Our mothers no longer manipulate or criticize. Our fathers no longer abuse and leave. Our brothers are freed from prison and no longer drink. Our sisters learn how to be loved and to trust again. Our own selfishness is put away as we seek out to live for the best interest of others. God restores our relationships to us and makes our joy complete as we are able to enjoy him and others we could not fully enjoy before. We no longer fear separation because Christ offers us unity in him.
God makes our joy complete through our fellowship with Him and with his Son Jesus Christ. It was this relationship the apostles found to be worth dying for – in order that you might hear their testimony and have an opportunity to know God through Jesus Christ too. It was this relationship with God the Father and with Christ himself that Jesus died for, so that we might know his love and have our joy fulfilled.
O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them…And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent… But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” John 17:25-26, 3,17
It is this goal, that makes Christianity different from every other religion in the world and it is for this reason true Christianity is not about religion, but all about restoring and reconciling relationships – first with God and then with others. Some things in life are worth dying for. I am dying for you to know Christ and to know you through Christ who restores all things and holds all things together, especially our relationships. Col. 1:15-20
If you haven’t been reconciled to God already through Christ, would you like to be? 1-888-Need-Him