1 John 1:1-4, Fellowship At A Distance
This Sunday, we will begin to look together at the first letter of the Apostle John (1 John), of which there are three. The primary theme of 1 John in particular, is fellowship with God and fellowship with one another. Love is the impetus for fellowship. We love because God first loves us. Without love, fellowship does not and cannot exist. Fellowship in turn, nourishes love. As we read through the opening lines of John’s love letter to the Church(es), the necessity and reality of fellowship are for John, essential to the true Church.
Take some time to read 1 John 1:1-4 slowly, noting key words and phrases that seem important for interpretation of and understanding of John’s letter. Once you’ve read these verses over a few times, ask the Lord to give you understanding and a heart for deeper fellowship with Jesus and a stronger fellowship and love for your brothers and sisters in Christ.
John, separated from the fellowship of believers, writes to encourage and to bring to remembrance the joy that we now have through Jesus due to the restorative nature of redemption and reconciliation that Jesus makes possible by his sinless life, atoning death on the cross, and his miraculous resurrection. Though they are separated in body, they are together in the Spirit; the person and work of Jesus binding them together across time and space, even though the audience of this letter did not see with their own eyes or touch with their own hands all that Jesus had done as the Apostles had.
This holds true today. Across time and space, believers are held together in fellowship by the saving work of Christ, though we have not seen him, we love him and love one another. This is a fellowship that is not easily broken, nor should it be when we realize that we are all bound together in Christ. To break it damages the Body of Christ and does great harm to our witness.
We are not together in the flesh at present. We are, as with much of the rest of the world, quarantined to our homes, separated from friends and family, walled off from the physical assembly of God’s people as they gather for worship each Lord’s day. This is, for many of us, a time of grief, but also a sorely needed reminder that we should not so easily forgo the opportunities the Lord has given us for fellowship. We should think long and hard before we allow other seemingly more pressing needs to take precedence over that fellowship.
As I write, I find myself, like many of you, living in the tension of cabin fever and thankfulness for unhurried time with my family and the reminder we have before us of the blessing of fellowship.
There is much to which I look forward when we are all able to gather once again. There is much that I do not wish to change when that time comes. My prayer through all of this is that, having tasted isolation from one another, we will be more deeply committed to the fellowship of believers upon our return. Please join me in that prayer to the glory of God the Father, the love of Jesus the Son, and the peace and power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.