There’s always a temptation to make God distant and abstract. After all, God dwells “in light inaccessible,” the scriptures say. God is beyond the eyes of our mind and body.
But God reveals himself in Jesus Christ, the “image of the invisible God.” The first followers of Jesus saw him with their own eyes and proclaimed that “the grace and kindness of our God has appeared” in him.
We’re reading from the 1st Letter of John, which was written as that first generation of eyewitnesses to the gospel was passing on. The letter’s message to a new generation (and certainly to us too) is simple: believe in Jesus Christ. As eyewitnesses pass on and years go by, we’re tempted to forget or minimize his place in our world and in our lives.
John’s letter warns about the dangers of docetism and gnosticism, two heresies supporting that temptation. A note in the New American Bible describes what these strange sounding heresies are all about:
“The specific heresy described in this letter cannot be identified exactly, but it is a form of docetism or gnosticism; the former doctrine denied the humanity of Christ to insure that his divinity was untainted, and the latter viewed the appearance of Christ as a mere stepping-stone to higher knowledge of God.”
He came “through water and Blood,” John writes. He urges us not to forget the humanity of Jesus Christ, the humble way he became flesh and shared our experience as human beings. God comes to us that way too. He was baptized in the waters of the Jordan uniting all nations in journeying to God’s Kingdom. He died and shed his blood for us. Don’t forget the mystery of his death and resurrection.
“God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
Love for one another is an essential part of loving God:
Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.