That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 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. We write this to make our joy complete. 1 John 1:1-4
It’s all fitting together. We’re doing a series on relationships. Jackson was born yesterday. Christmas is coming with its celebration of the birth of Christ, and the reason for His coming. And in my current plan for New Testament reading, November 30 is the beginning of 1st John, where John states that the reason for Christ’s coming was so that they, as His disciples, could see Him and touch Him, and pass on that knowledge to us, so that ultimately their joy would be made complete — the circle being drawn, and unbroken.
So the circle goes like this: The disciples walk and talk with the flesh and blood, human Jesus. The disciples pass on the essence of this living relationship with Christ to the early Christians (in this case, those who would have received and studied John’s letter). Through them, John’s letter has been preserved and passed on to us (absolutely amazing that we are reading the same scriptures that they read), so that we have a relationship with them and with each other. And all of this is wrapped up in one word called fellowship. Fellowship is not just a word for membership or togetherness, though it may have elements of these, fellowship is the spiritual name we put to the strange and mysterious mix of flesh and blood and sweat and tears and mind and spirit called the body of Christ.
This is not a mystical or otherworldly religion. It is a RELATIONSHIP begun with the disciples and Jesus and stretching out to us. We are part of this same mystery. We are the blood and skin of this same relationship all tied together to Christ whom John saw with his physical eyes and touched and hugged with his physical hands. You could call it a matrix that physically and spiritually links us together with the flesh and blood of Christ. And what is the result of this fellowship? “To make our joy complete” (1 John 1:4). To bind us all together in joy, and make that joy complete because the circle is unbroken.
There is power in this bond — power to love and forgive — power to be the representatives of the Lord Jesus today— power to be Christ to our world and our generation. The power comes from Christ; it’s as if He never left. Our relationships connect us. We are no longer isolated, we are connected to each other and to Jesus, not only spiritually, but physically.
When I was ordained nine years ago, Chandler was 10 years old. The pastor who was officiating asked each of the family members who were participating to come up with words that God put on their heart for that moment. Not to worry about what they meant — just the words. What was being impressed on them, whether it was a story or a picture or merely a word or two? Chandler’s comment was immediate — almost without thinking — “Blood,” he said, “and skin.” I still marvel at the gritty reality of these words. These are the things that bind us to each other and to Christ. These are the tangible realities of being a part of the unbroken circle — the divine matrix. That we might know God through Christ, and that we might know each other through being bonded with Him, this is how God’s Word and work will go forward through us and in us. This is how grace gets turned outward to everyone, everywhere in the world.