1See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. 2Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 3And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3
John had such a precious intimacy with His Savior while Jesus walked the earth. It’s clear from these letters that this intimacy has not waned, but has only deepened. John gives us the “why” behind the righteous life. Obedience flows out of love not obligation. John isn’t arguing for behavior modification through religion, but eternal transformation through relationship. He is inviting us to dream out loud about what it will be like on that glorious day when Christ returns to take us home. For John, it will be a family reunion. He hadn’t seen Christ face to face since His ascension. Can you hear the longing in his heart to see His Savior again? I’m actually kind of jealous, because, John doesn’t even have to wait too long as He would see Jesus again when he was later exiled to the island of Patmos and received The Revelation. So, I have to ask myself, “Do I live in eager expectation of this family reunion, of Christ’s return?” Or, is it simply a theological reality that I give mental assent to but not my heart? Like a bride and groom keeping themselves pure for the day of their wedding, they live in eager expectation of their glorious union. Their motive to stay pure is that nothing would taint or take away from the hope they have for life together. Is that a motive I live with? Eager Expectation is the Greek word for Hope. It literally means a pleasurable anticipation. The longer we wait the more excited we get for that moment when we will see Jesus face to face! This is how John stayed pure- it was for the purpose of being ready to see Jesus again!
I remember feeling that eager expectation with Cyndi before our wedding day. We knew all of our friends and family would have a massive reunion and we wanted to stand pure before them and before our God. So, we set up all kinds of safeguards knowing that it’s usually months before the big day that many of our friends would go too far physically and then would have regret on their wedding day. We had accountability partners, I made sure I didn’t stay over at her place past 10 p.m., and we stayed focused on a spiritual intimacy through prayer and journaling. In fact, I didn’t trust myself at all so I set up a boundary that many of our friends considered legalistic or foolish. Cyndi and I agreed that our first kiss would be when she said “yes” on our engagement day and our second kiss would be when she said “yes” on our wedding day. I just looked at it from a very logical point of view. In order to kiss her my body has to be very close to hers and there’s a good chance that once I’m in close proximity my passions will take the drivers seat. Once the pilot light is lit that pot is going to boil over. Simply put, if I wasn’t close enough to kiss her then I wouldn’t be close enough to do anything else. By the grace of God the plan worked. Cyndi and I were able to be alone with each other prior to our wedding day without any fear of “going too far” because we had set our boundaries far enough away. As two young people madly in love and crazy attracted to each other we had to keep putting that goal in front of us- no regrets on our wedding day! It was a purposeful purity. We weren’t staying pure simply because we were “supposed to” but because we wanted to! God had entrusted this precious and pure jewel to my care and I knew that I didn’t want to tarnish or sully Cyndi in any way that would hinder our life long union. There’s a lot of mockery in the news these days about the “true love waits” campaigns of my youth that encouraged abstinence. I was thankful for these messages but I believe they missed out on the key emphasis that John point out in today’s reading. Instead of just focusing on what not to do, it’s really about focusing on what Jesus is doing. Before I had ever met Cyndi the Lord spoke really clearly to my heart, “Until you know true intimacy with me you won’t know true intimacy with anyone else.” This set me on a path to get as close to Jesus as possible. Out of this intimacy with my Savior the focus was no longer “don’t do this or else”, but rather “let’s do this together”. So, even during dating and engagement I would bring all of my raging hormones and my physical desires to the Lord and He would give me wisdom on how to stay pure. This was purposeful purity. This is what will keep the Church- The Bride- pure in these last days- and eager expectation, a pleasurable anticipation of Christ’s return! We won’t turn to the craving of our flesh because we are so in love with Jesus and don’t want to live our lives with regrets. I don’t want to have any regrets when I see my Savior face to face!
Thank You for this reminder. I pray this revelation over my five boys. That they would be so hungry for you that they would yield all of the cravings of the flesh to the God who wants to walk them through their teens and twenties in purity. Lord, I pray too that I would live in that eager expectation of our soon and coming return. That I would seek to stay pure in my words, thoughts, and deeds so that when you return for Your Bride, she would be without spot or wrinkle on that glorious day of our reunion.