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Love: God’s Greatest Gift – “Chosen By Love”

Sharing God's Word, Living His Love
Love Gods Greatest Gift

1 John 3:1-7

April 14, 2024


When I was in college I had a good friend who would often tell us how much he enjoyed the fact that he was adopted as an infant.  When a group of us first heard this we asked him why and he said with a smile on his face, “You see, when you guys were born, your poor parents were stuck with you.  They had to keep you.  But not mine.  My parents saw a whole group of babies, and when they saw me they saw good looks and intelligence all wrapped up in one child.  They wanted me, so they pointed at me and told the nurse, “We pick him.”  And during my 4 years of college he would often remind us how his parents chose him.

You and I are children of God, because He wanted us – He chose us.  Before we were ever born, before we ever had a chance to prove ourselves to be sinners, God chose you and me to be members of His family.  He made our place in His family possible by carrying out a plan almost 2000 years ago to rescue the world through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.  Then, in time, God made His choice and His adoption a reality by sending His Holy Spirit into our hearts, so that we could believe in Him and be His child.  For many of us this happened when we were baptized.  As the water was poured on our heads, the Holy Spirit entered our hearts, and Jesus put His name on us and claimed us as His children. So you could say then that our baptism certificates, that we give to every person who is baptized, serves as our physical adoption papers.

Do you realize what it means to be a child of God?  Do you realize the sense of hope that should create in us?  This is not some honorary title.  Being a child of God means that God has obligated Himself to do for us what all good fathers do for their children, namely providing for our daily needs, protecting us, teaching us, and guiding us.  When we need help we can always call on Him and we don’t have to feel like we’re talking to a stranger or we don’t have to feel like any need or request is too small or unimportant, because we are talking to our God who wants us to call Him, “Father” when we pray to Him.  But our relationship with Him is one that He initiated – it was His idea, His doing, His adoption not ours.  He stooped down and became one of us since we could not climb up to Him.

You might think that John, the writer of our second lesson, would almost take for granted that he was a child of God.  After all, he was one of the original disciples chosen by Jesus to follow Him as an apostle; he was the one Jesus chose to take care of His mother when He died on the cross; and he was referred to in Scripture as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  Yet, there is still a sense of wonder and amazement in these words of John.  In verse 1 John says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are.”

At times when my friend from college was very thankful for his parents and the nice upbringing he enjoyed, he would occasionally discuss his background with us, and in all seriousness, would say, “I wonder why, with all the infants my parents saw for adoption that day, they picked me.  As an infant, I hadn’t done anything to deserve to be chosen by them.”

The same is true with us in being children of God.  We certainly haven’t done anything to deserve being chosen by God as His children.  After all, have we always used God’s name in a respectful way?  Have we always loved our parents and obeyed them?  Have we ever lost our tempter and said something we later regretted?  I know I haven’t kept any of God’s commandments perfectly, and yet, despite our failings, stubbornness, and selfishness, God still loves us.  In fact, He has lavished His love on us by giving His only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins.  In other words, Jesus was sent into this world so that God could claim us as His children.  You are a child of God.  Don’t ever doubt that for a moment, because if that weren’t true, God never would have sent His Son to die for us.  There wouldn’t have been any reason to send His Son into this world as one of us.  We are God’s children, chosen by Him, and if that is who we are, can you imagine what God has in store for us someday?  In verse 2, John invites us to do just that.  He says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

There is so much that God has left for our imagination.  What will it be like in heaven?  Will there be houses and streets and cities?  Will there be gardens, trees, and rivers?  Will there be tennis courts and golf courses?  Will we recognize our family members?  Will my childhood pet be there?  What will my body look like?  John says that we are “God’s children now, but what we will be has not yet appeared.”  But there is enough information that we have for us to imagine, because John does tell us in verse 2 that “we will be like God,” meaning perfect and holy in every way.  We will be like Adam and Eve in the beginning, created in the image of God.  Gone will be our sinful thoughts and temptations.  Gone will be the guilt and shame we feel when we’ve failed to do the good God demands and managed to do the evil God forbids.  Can you imagine having only pure, peaceful, and happy thoughts in your mind all the time?  Can you imagine seeing Jesus face to face?

I’m sure John did a lot of imagining at the end of his life as he was imprisoned on an island.  Separated from his friends on an island as punishment for preaching about Jesus, I’m sure John thought every day, especially as he was probably at an older age when he wrote these words, “Maybe today I will get to see Jesus.”

When life is not treating you fairly, when you are struggling with your health, when things seem to be falling apart in your life, remember who you are.  You are a child of God, adopted by Him in your baptism; and just like a child often becomes like their parents, we should want to be more like God every day.  That’s why John writes in verse 3, “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

One of the strangest moments in life is the day that you, as an adult, are talking to your children or to your spouse, and suddenly you hear your mother or father’s words coming out of your mouth.  Suddenly, you start saying things you swore you would never say to your children or your spouse.  And it is in those moments that we suddenly realize that we have become our parents.  Even if we struggle not to be, there will be traits that have been permanently etched into our personalities.

In the same way, as God’s children, we become more and more like Him every day as we make our walk with Him.  We keep on purifying ourselves, just as He is pure.  What does that mean to “keep on purifying ourselves?”  Very simply, we examine ourselves every week here in worship or every day of our lives so that we can see the impurities and our imperfections.  We look at what we say and how we act.  We look at our feelings, our actions, our attitudes, and desires.  Are they godly, holy, or pure?  If not, then we bring these impurities to God in prayer or at Communion and we claim the hope of God’s promise that He gives to us, namely as we heard last week in John’s first chapter of this book, “If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just, will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

When parents bring a new child into the family and everyone wants to know who he or she will look like or be like, we already know the only answer that counts – we shall be like Jesus.  We may not see it yet, but God is always sharping us to be like Jesus and is filling our minds and our hearts with His Word out of His tremendous love for us.  You are a child of God, chosen by Him, made in His image through Baptism and faith forever, and someday we will see ourselves as God sees us, and that is a gift of love from Jesus that no one can take from you.

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