What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 1 Jn 1:4
I bet you thought I was going to talk about my grandsons from the title, right? Sorry to disappoint. This passage of scripture grabbed me this morning.
John starts out with verifying his witness of Christ in a most convincing fashion by testifying of his belief in eternal life through Jesus Christ, the Word of life. Of all the conclusions he could have come to, he concludes that his greatest joy is to share it with others so that they too can experience it and come into the same fellowship that he has with the Father and with Jesus Christ. This is what makes their joy complete. Imagine! It wasn't the experiences, what they had heard, what they had seen and touched with their hands, it wasn't even the current fellowship they have with the Father and the Son or the knowledge of eternal life now theirs, it was having their words received and manifested in the life of another that gave them complete joy!
I had to ask myself a couple of questions after being arrested by this passage:
1. Is my testimony of the Word of Life based on what I know because I have experienced it myself or is it based on what I've been taught? None of us like listening to someone repeating facts they have memorized. We would much rather hear it from the horse's mouth, from someone who has experienced it firsthand for themselves. Do I have those experiences that have convinced me of what I profess to believe? Has that life been manifested to me and in me? If not, I really have little to say.
2. Is it my natural inclination to proclaim what I have seen and heard? Can I honestly say that "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation" and therefore I take every opportunity to share the love and power of Christ with as many people as I can. If I don't speak of Christ when I can, how can I be so selfish as to have experienced the cure to what ails every human being on the earth and leave them bound for hell when it is within my power to offer them hope and healing for their sin-sick lives? Do I operate under the fear of God or the fear of man?
3. Is it my greatest joy to see others receiving salvation as I did? Do I realize the miracle it is every it happens? Am I filled with awe, as the angels are, over the Lord extending salvation to the world? It should never grow old! Or am I just satisfied to have my nice little group of church friends who help the Lord meet all my needs? Am I just satisfied that I'm okay but never really give a thought to the dying that are all around me? Is my heart filled with compassion for even the rankest lost soul? Do I see them the way that God saw me before He saved my soul?
I can have joy over what the Lord has done for me. I can revel in the times when the Lord touches me, speaks to me, and changes me. But according to this scripture, joy is not complete unless this joy that I have is shared with and experienced by others. THIS should be my greatest joy! It's why God left me here after salvation, for heaven's sake!
In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul talks about his ministry to the Thessalonians. How he toiled to deliver to them the Word of Life and they received it. Because of this, he ends his passage with "for you are our glory and joy." His "joy" was in their salvation. Even above his own salvation, it seems.