Up to this point, we’ve learned what abiding in the Lord truly means, and that the Holy Spirit will teach us what the Lord wants us to do by His Word. “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (1 Jn 2:28-3:1)
Here is an astonishing thing. It is not the fact that God loves, but how God loves. What manner of love is this! Literally, the Greek for “what manner” is “of what country” is this! It is an exclamation of astonishment, of surprise. What kind of country is this, what foreign land is this, that is represented in love like that! It is the strangeness of God’s love that is in view in this whole thing. How is God’s love strange? John say, “that we should be called children of God!”.
Consider how God saw us when He found us: When we were helpless, when we were unable to make any contribution to the redemption we desperately needed, when there was not a thing we could do about it, and even our good was tainted with self-interest so that we could make no contribution whatsoever, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for us (Rom 5:6). But it doesn’t stop there! “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) While we were proud, overbearing in our attitude toward God, treating Him with condescension and indifference. When we were this way, Christ died for us. Even this does not exhaust His description.
Not only were we without strength, not only sinners, proud and prickly in our attitude, but also when we were absolutely opposed to God, enemies of His grace, treacherous, hateful, resenting what God was doing and resisting every attempt He made to reach us. We were lovers of the world; and the sinful customs of this world are in direct opposition to the righteousness of God. When we develop a “friendship” with the world—when we delight in the sinful ways of the world—we essentially declare war on God (James 4:4). Now, John says, what amazing love! God flings the bloodstained mantle of His love over us and calls us His children. And He not only calls us this, but He actually makes us so: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”
As I think on this, the times that pride rears it’s ugly head so that I feel I deserve whatever it is I want at the moment, I must remember that Jesus died and was resurrected to wash my sin away, and bestow His righteousness on me. “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Rom 5:9) Not only does God’s love extend to all, but He desires that His enemies should become His children through faith and submission to His Son, and that his children should become mature sons and daughters. THAT is amazing love!
Lord, I echo these words of John: What an amazing manner of love that has been bestowed on me that I should be called a child of God, and so I am, I know it is true, even though I do not always act like it. Teach me to live as Your obedient child.