John gives his readers a self-evident truth: If you say you know God, prove it by living in His light! To know God and to have fellowship with Him has always been the quest of the human spirit and in the ancient world in which John lived there were three lines of thought regarding this: 1. The Greeks felt that they could arrive at God through the process of intellectual reasoning and argument. We can read in the book of Acts of the great lecture houses that had been built to house the hundreds who would come together to hear the great debaters of their day and to debate amongst themselves. We read that Paul spent much of his time there- Acts 17 v 16-34 describes such activity in Athens. 2. Others sought to find God in emotional experience. The mystery religions were the phenomenon of those days and their aim was union with the divine. The god of the mystery religions was very similar to the Jehovah God of the Bible in that their god lived, died cruelly and rose again. It was a kind of religious drug and was more about feeling God than knowing Him. 3. The Jewish way of knowing God which was to be found through God's self-revelation. This God was a holy God and required His worshippers to be holy too. John, as he expresses himself in these letters, can clearly see no way of knowing God without obedience to Him. When we read through the Old Testament and marvel at the men and women of faith recorded there, we are reminded that it is through the long walk of obedience that true friendship with God is found. Jesus offers us the hand of friendship, but it can only be experienced along the long road of servanthood, obedience and suffering. If you think you have an easy way of knowing God, think again! In my reading and in my experience of walking alongside people, it is in obedient suffering- trusting in God's grace, even though we walk in the dark-that God is to be found. It is not so much in the heights of Christian spiritual experience, but in the dark valleys that Christ walks!
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