We have all heard such thoughts as, it’s a dog eat dog world, if you don’t look out for yourself no one else will, and the climb to the top is a lonely one, but such sentiments should have no place in the life of a true Christian. In fact, if relationship building is not at the top of our priority list we should question our salvation. The first relationship, which should greatly surpass all others is the relationship we have with our God. Furthermore, the relationships we have with others should supercede every other goal we set. We can know my thinking is accurate when we consider the 1st letter of John the Apostle.
In chapter 1 and verse 4 of John’s 1st letter, he gives one of the reason for writing the chapter and the letter, which he says is “These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” To clarify what John means when he says “these things” let us focus upon to prominent themes in John’s letter, and dominant in his 1st chapter. The first is the message he delivers from God. He stated the message immediately following in verse 5, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”
If there was one thing that John understood to be important it was truth. One dominant feature of light is that it reveals, whereas darkness hides. What light reveals as it comes from God is the truth about our sin. Therefore, to walk in the light is to agree with God about our sin; to walk in the dark is to deny our sinful condition. For this reason John recorded Jesus’ words in his Gospel, “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” John 3:21. Therefore, the one that comes to God and walks in the truth gives God the glory for all the good that is done by Him and through us. The unsaved world, however, takes all the credit for all the good that is done by them. The essence of sin is unbelief in God.
The 2nd prominent theme in John’s writing is fellowship. Take special note of his use of the pronouns “you” and “we.” What John saw and heard in Jesus he proclaimed to “you” readers, in verse 3; and he continued, “so that you too may have fellowship with us.” There is no question to whom John is speaking, it is “you” the reader. It is not the man down the pew, across the street, or around the world, it is you. However, John’s reason for writing his letter is “so that our joy may be made complete.” The “our” is all inclusive of all those who would ever read his letter. For John fellowship was exceedingly important; what he did in writing his letter is symbolic of the entirety of his life, which was to live and die for others.
John’s use of the pronoun “we” in his text is a sure indication of the high priority he placed upon fellowship. Just in verses 1 through 4 he uses it 6 times, and our and us for a total of 8 times. He is the one writing and yet he uses the pronoun “we” to describe what he saw. John understood himself to be one of 12 men who walked with Jesus for 3 years; he had become a community minded man to be sure. He does not stop in verse 4 but continues to use “we” in verse 5, “…the message we have heard…”, and verse 6, “If we say… we lie”, and verse 7 “but if we walk in the light… we have fellowship… cleanses us…” In the following 4 verses he uses “we” and “us” no less than 12 more times. His point is very clear, in the Christian life fellowship with God always leads to fellowship with others. God is a trinity where community is everything; we have been made in God’s image, therefore fellowship should become highest on our priority list.
What separates people from one another is sin and its effects, and what unites people is the truth about sin, when it is within a community where understanding and forgiveness triumph over criticism and gossip. Love and understanding can only triumph where the blood of Christ is applied. The blood of Christ will only be applied when the Gospel message is proclaimed in truth. For this reason, the Apostle places a very high priority upon truth.
When we consider John’s 2nd letter, we can appreciate the value he placed upon truth and light. “The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth” 2 John 1:1. John understood that there is a bond between all those who know and love the truth. For this reason, after stating his love for the chosen lady who walked in the truth, he went on to make the profound observation, “not only I, but also all who know the truth.” To know the truth is to love the truth, according to John, and all those who know and love the truth, also love those who do the same.
The love that the Apostle speaks about is reserved for all those who love the truth, and thereby love one another in the truth. The true bond of all Christian fellowship is the truth. The 1st priority of the Christian life is to walk in the truth, which is followed quickly with a fellowship of love with all others who know and love the truth. This is the 2nd great weapon, according to John, to fight in the war against the world, the sinful flesh, and the devil and enemy of our souls. Nothing dismantles this great weapon faster than the act of justifying or side-stepping sinful behavior in our lives.