Who doesn’t want joy? Who doesn’t covet some gladness of heart? I think people like to smile . . . they like cheerfulness . . . they like to know a spirit that is lifted up. In our world we have entire industries devoted to trying to bring people joy . . . charities whose purpose is to bring joy . . . really, no end to the avenues designed to cheer people up. But as I start in on 1John this morning, I’m reminded of the source of true joy . . . authentic joy . . . full joy . . . complete joy.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life–the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1John 1:1-4 (ESV)
Two words, each repeated twice, jumped out at me as I read this passage this morning. I’m suggesting that they are part of the dynamics which result in complete joy . . . manifestation and fellowship.
The life, says John, was made manifest. John and his contemporaries had the privilege of directly encountering the Word of life . . . of rubbing shoulders with God incarnate . . . of breaking bread with the Light of the World. The Creator came to His own and revealed Himself to those with hears to hear and eyes to see. He who was the Source of eternal life and was with the Father made Himself known . . . allowed Himself to be “handled” . . . openly conveyed the heart of God and mind of God and the way of God to as many as would receive it. And in that manifestation, in that revelation, they experienced joy.
And so, says John, we testify to it and we proclaim it that others might know also the dynamic and the joy.
Jesus still manifests Himself today. He is revealed through the “behind the scenes” work of the Holy Spirit who convicts men of sin and leads them to a righteousness by faith alone in Christ alone. The Word of Life is also made known through the written Word. Whether it be the shadows of one who would do battle with the enemy in Genesis 3 . . . or the prophesied Lamb of God in Isaiah 53 . . . or the record of those who lived when He lived . . . or the teaching of him who encountered the resurrected, ascended Christ on the road to Damascus, . . . from cover to cover the Bible makes known the Son . . . the Holy Spirit illuminating the text and making manifest the Christ. And, Jesus is made manifest in and through His people . . . something about encountering authentic followers of Christ that points to Someone beyond themselves . . . to the One who lives inside of them. Complete joy comes when Christ is manifested.
And too, there is fellowship. John wrote so that others might join them in entering into an intimate communion with the Father and with the Son. By faith and, again, through the enabling agency of the Holy Spirit, there is a very real community to be known with the Divine. Perhaps one of those things that is better felt than tell’t . . . but real nevertheless. A real communion known when we “go into our closets” and seek our Father who sees in secret . . . a vital fellowship when we gather with other believers as the temple of God within which His glory resides. A fellowship known in good times . . . a fellowship so precious in difficult times. And in that fellowship, in that communion, there is joy . . . complete joy.
Manifestation and fellowship . . . complete joy!
By His grace . . . for His glory . . .