“We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John 1:4
A few years back I was reading a book that really spoke encouragement into a situation I was going through. I carried it with me everywhere I went. Any time I heard someone mention something that pertained to the topic I would interject this book into the conversation. “I’m reading this book. It talks about just what you’re going through. I’ve found it to be so helpful. You might find it helpful as well.”
It’s so easy to tell someone about the latest book I’ve read, movie I’ve seen or product I’ve found, but tell someone about my relationship with Jesus? That’s another story.
The Apostle John explains, however, that telling others about Jesus doesn’t have to be so difficult. In fact, whatever fear you may think you will experience will actually be overwhelmed with joy. And not just any joy, but complete joy.
John writes to make His joy complete and in doing so, lets us in on a few ways we can experience this joy as well.
1. Share Jesus and invite.
“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 his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3
More often than I’d like to admit, conversations touch on topics that speak to God’s work in my life and yet, I stay closed lipped. Jesus is my greatest joy. Just as I share other experiences with people, John says to do the same thing regarding Jesus. One of the best ways to tell others about Him is to share what I’ve seen, heard and felt. I can tell them how my life has changed because I’ve encountered Him. I can share what I love most and what I know to be true about Him. He is more than helpful; He is everything good. Why would I want to stay quiet about Him?
At the same time, no one wants to be told what to do, but everyone wants to be loved, included, and know they have a place to belong. My hope is that others would join me, so we can follow Christ together. That means I need to not only tell, but invite. It’s easy to invite people to our game nights, barbecues, concerts and other fun events. Why is it so hard to invite people to church, to a Bible study or some other Jesus-centered activity? I know I too often take their hesitation, uncertainty or out-right rejection of Jesus personally. I also know, however, that my desire for others to know Jesus as their greatest joy is an indicator of my love for them. What does it say about my heart for people if I don’t care if they know Him or not?
2. Live in the Light.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5
John says, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” He knows and sees all and as we step into a relationship with Him, His light shines into all the dark crevasses of our beings.
I admit there are times when I want to hide. I fear criticism, judgement and rejection. I fear being called out on all the things I’ve done wrong. I don’t want to be seen. I don’t want to be hurt again. This attitude thrives in the dark, but in Jesus there is no darkness. Not one shadow. His light reveals everything that causes me to want to hide, but with Him there is nothing I need to hide.
My sin separates me from God. My not believing and acting on His command to not be afraid keeps me separated from God. When I acknowledge my sin, give it to Him and ask for His help to think, live and love differently, I begin to live in His light. If I think I’ve already got it altogether and don’t need His help, I’m fooling myself and I’m calling Him a liar. The light of Jesus requires me to be honest and vulnerable if I truly want a relationship with Him and relationships with others.
3. Walk the way of Jesus.
“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
1 John 2:5b-6
Or as one version says, “ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” How did Jesus live or walk? He walked in love and I’m called to do the same. I need to walk in agreement with what He says is true.
I embrace His love for me and I embrace His love for others. I trust that when He says His love is perfect and casts out fear, I can let it go. And when I still hold tight to my fear, I’m not walking in His love. I’m trying to stay hidden in the dark. When I hold grudges, sit in resentment and bitterness, or am judging and criticizing, unwilling to share His love with others, I’m living from a heart of hate, not love.
Living and walking like Jesus isn’t just about what I do outwardly with people, it’s also about what I let live in my heart towards people. If I claim to know Jesus, if I claim to be a “good Christian”, then I need to love like He does. I love without judgement, forgiving and offering grace. I support and encourage people in whatever way I can and trust that God is at work in their lives as well as my own. I step into the messy places and relationships He calls me to trusting that I have nothing to fear in His perfect love.
As we step into a relationship with Jesus, we acknowledge the truth of who He is and who we are. We let ourselves be seen and trust His love to help us think, live and love His way. We love one another when we are willing to be seen and known, strengths, weaknesses, flaws and all. We love one another when we are willing to see and know the struggles of others and go through it with them so that they can know the love of Jesus themselves. In Jesus, we form relationships that are unbroken by time and the conditions of our hearts and world. We come into agreement with God and in this, together we can experience full and complete joy.