I John 3:1-7
April 15, 2018 Abbey Church Abraham
There is a phrase in our second reading this morning that always catches me, either when I hear it or read it.: “…when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” I used to think that maybe the words had been transposed in some ancient manuscripts so long ago that we now just assumed that the order in our current Bibles is the correct version. I really thought John should have said: “…when he is revealed, we will see him as he is, because we will be like him.”, because God’s job is to make us holy, and then when we are holy enough, we will see everything, including God, as it really is – without the bias and filter of our own sinful greed and fear.
Yes, it is God’s job to make us holy – it’s all grace. And yes, the holier God makes us, the more we see things as they really are (always about God, never about us). But, the holier God makes us, the more we are expected to grow and cultivate the growth – actively doing things to receive the holiness that God is pouring upon us. It’s all grace, but faith and works are also part of the picture.
So, we need to work on seeing God as God really is, and dong that involves also seeing creation as it really is. We need to see everything in its true relationship with God, rather than in its false relationship to us. And of course by “seeing” it is implied that we start living in the truth and treating everything as it truly is in relationship to God, not as it might affect us. There are many ways to do that, and the classical Christian disciplines of fasting, prayer, scripture reading, going to church, etc. are helpful for many people. Other people might need to try something else, but the important thing is that we start seeing things and living life as it really is: without us as the center, but rather with God as the center. Freeing ourselves from the center of the universe is indeed liberating.
So, as we start to see God as God really is and ourselves as we really are and the rest of creation as it really is, what we are doing is actually becoming like God in at least one aspect, because God always sees the truth. It’s all grace, so eventually God will give us a glimpse of Godself as God really is, but God knows that we just can’t handle the truth yet. God is waiting for us to grow to the point that God can safely show us the truth without completely shattering us. At some point in eternity (which encompasses all points), God will be revealed to us, and “we will be like him, for we shall see him as he is”. AMEN