Fellowship With The Word
Sunday, March 26, 2017
1 John 1:1-4
What do people need more than food, clothing, and shelter? A relationship with God.
1 John 1 “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.2 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. 3 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.4 We write this to make our [your] joy complete. (NIV)
Who is the Word of life? Jesus is the Word of Life.
Fellowship. What is that? Merriam Webster for kids says: definition 1: the condition of friendly relationship existing among persons
John was inviting his readers to have fellowship with him and his friends. He said that he was writing this letter, telling his readers what he, and his friends had seen and heard. He went further, telling them why he was telling them what he had seen and heard. He said, “so that”. This phrase indicates the purpose for what he had just said.
John’s purpose in telling what he had seen and heard was to bring his readers into fellowship with him and with those with whom he had fellowship. Then John clarifies who he had fellowship, or a friendly relationship with. Who was that?
If you said ‘with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ’ you are correct.
So, to sum all that up, John was writing this letter to invite his readers to have a friendly relationship with him AND, more importantly, with God the Father and God’s Only Begotten Son Jesus, the Messiah.
Number 1: God loves me. Number 2: He is my Lord.
Do you see the connection here? God loves me and He instructed John to write this letter so that I would know that God loves me and that he wants to have fellowship… He wants to have a relationship… He wants to have a friendly relationship with Me. And with you and with everyone else.
It does not surprise me that He wants to have a relationship with you. You are nice people. I want to have a friendly relationship with you. But God wants to have a friendly relationship with ME!
John went on to say he was writing in order to make our joy complete.
Some of you may have noticed that your version of this text says “to make your joy complete” or as the King James says, “that your joy may be full”. Why do some versions say ‘our’ and some ‘your’? Some of the manuscripts (hand written copies) that have been used to translate the Bible say ‘your’. Most of them say ‘our’. How much of a contradiction is that? Not much really.
Whether John said ‘our’ or ‘your’, he most likely included all his readers to be included in having their joy complete.
But there is another way to look at this. John could have had in mind to say that he was writing that our joy may be full or complete meaning that he, John, and God and Jesus Christ’s joy would be full or complete if John’s readers would accept the truth of what he was telling them.
In other words, John could have been saying that God’s joy would be complete or full when we come into fellowship with Him. When we have a friendly relationship with God, God is pleased. God loves me! God loves you!
Do you remember the story of Jonah? Kids love the story of Jonah and the whale, or the great fish. That all takes place in the first chapter of Jonah. Chapter 2 is Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish. Chapter 3 tells us that Jonah did finally listen to God and went to preach in the pagan city of Nineveh.
Do you remember the result of His preaching? The whole city became believers in Yahweh. I wish I could see the kind of results from my preaching that Jonah had.
Chapter 4 tells about Jonah’s response to the success that God gave him in Nineveh and God’s response to Jonah’s attitude. Look at that chapter with me.
Jonah 4:1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (NIV)
Displeased and angry. What was Jonah displeased and angry about? He was a successful evangelist. Because of his preaching a city was saved from destruction. A city full of people came to know God. And that is what Jonah was angry about. These foreign, pagan people had no part in God’s family and Jonah did not like having to admit that God wanted to save them. Jonah was a racist. He did not love people. He just loved his people, his family and no one else. He basically told God, ‘if this is the way things are, I would just rather die than go on living.’
God does not want anyone to die without knowing Him. He would bring everyone into His family.
Are there people you would not want in your church?
Continue with me in verse 4:
4 But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. (NIV)
Did you notice that Jonah ignored God’s question? Jonah had a relationship with God, but God is working at making Jonah a better disciple. God wanted Jonah to know that God calls the shots. We do not get to decide with whom God will have us Tell the good news. God is in charge. We are to GO. We are to TELL people that God loves them and that He is Lord… We must go where He leads and take the opportunities to witness that God gives us.
This week God gave me an opportunity that I was not expecting. After I finished my exercises the other day, I decided to go and see if I could get a key made for the gas tank lid on the van. It was 8:50 when I was walking up to Center Hardware and young man was walking toward the door as well. He asked if the door was open. I said they open at 8. We struck up a conversation. Before the conversation was over I knew that God had arranged that meeting. Pray for Jarrod. He needs God’s help in his life and God loves him and wants to have a relationship with this young man who is struggling to make a life for himself.
We do not get to pick who we witness to. Jesus Christ is Lord and He will lead us to the encounters with people He wants us to have. With Jonah, God had to go to some extremes to get Jonah to witness to the people of Nineveh. Don’t be so stubborn that you refuse to share God’s Love and Lordship with those to whom God sends you.
Pick up again in verse 6:
6 Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” (NIV)
Who is Lord? Who leads us? Who loves us? We do not get to choose when we die.
9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”
“I do, “he said, “I am angry enough to die.” (NIV)
When God asked Jonah about his anger, that is, if he had a right to be angry about the salvation of Nineveh Jonah did not answer. He knew the answer and he knew God loved people. He had no right to be angry. He should have been rejoicing about the salvation of so many people.
But when God asked him about his right to be angry about the vine, Jonah expressed his true feelings and what he really believed. Jonah was not angry enough to die over the loss of his shade vine. He was really angry about Nineveh but did not want to admit it to God, perhaps even to himself. God helped Jonah to deal with his anger and to realize that he needed to allow God to be God. He needed to acknowledge God’s right to be in charge of life. Whether it is about a small thing like the loss of a plant, or a big thing like the breaking down of a prejudice that we hold on to when we know God is trying to help us grow in our love for Him and in our love for other people, we need to submit to God.
Are there things you are angry with God about? Do you really have a right to be angry? Who is in charge of your life? Who has the right to direct you… to lead you in the work of ministry that He is calling you to?
Let’s finish reading the 4th chapter of Jonah:
10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this vine though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (NIV)
There are those who believe that this story is a fable and did not actually happen. I believe it did and Jonah wrote down his experience of how God brought him to a fuller understanding of God’s plan and purpose in the world.
Whether you think it is a true story or a fable that Jonah used to teach his people a truth about God, the truth is still there. God loves people and he wants to have a relationship with them.
The two great commandments are clearly expressed here. We are to love God and in loving Him to accept Him as Lord of our lives. We are to care more about people than we do about things. Love God and love people. This is God’s will for us.
We have a mission in life. We are to carry out the two great commandments. We are to carry out the great commission. We are to make disciples by witnessing to others and helping them to see what God has done for us and what He wants to do for them.
God is working in each of our lives to bring us more in line with these truths. We can either resist what He is trying to do, as Jonah did. Or we can submit to God’s love and His Lordship.
God wants to have fellowship with us. We need to have fellowship with the Word, that is, with God, the son, Jesus Christ. We need to walk in the Spirit. We need to accept the love of our Heavenly Father and work at loving Him and loving others.