We shall be like Him
We Shall Be Like Him (1 John 2:28 to 3:3)
Authentic Christians live in anticipation of a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ in the presence of God. The last chapter of the Bible promises "They will see his face"
(Rev. 22:4). In the present, faith deals with the invisible. In the future, faith will become sight and we will see the object of our faith. Jesus prayed, "Father, I want those who you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory" (John 17:24). Genuine believers live with the compelling hope that we will see Jesus Christ.
The fact that we shall be like Him in the future energizes Christian living in the present.
A Persistent Desire Marks Those Who Shall Be Like Him
Those who shall be like Him desire a perpetual relationship: "dear children, continue in him." John's definition for the Christian life is abiding in Christ, being at home in Christ, constant union with Christ. Christianity is not an initiation at the beginning, but a relationship throughout life. We must not misrepresent Christianity as a mere transaction that changes eternal destination. There is a large difference between meeting someone casually and moving into the same house! Jesus saves by moving in.
There is an ultimate reason for continuing in Christ: "so that when he appears, we may be confident." Confidence is a favorite word for John. He desires that we be confident in prayer (1 John 3:21; 5:14) and confident in the presence of God. Such confidence pictures the freedom of a child relating to a father rather than a slave to a master. This confidence indicates an undismayed frankness and freedom of speech in the presence of a judge. When you abide in Christ, you can finally stand before God's throne with that confidence.
This confidence means we will be "unashamed before him at his coming" (2:28). The opposite of confidence is to shrink away from Him with an averted faith. When you live in union with Jesus Christ, you can anticipate meeting Him face to face and looking into His eyes with bold confidence.
There is an immediate evidence of readiness for that meeting. Meeting Jesus Christ face to face belongs to the invisible world of the future. There is a visible test in the present which reveals my fitness for the future. That test is based on the character of God as it is revealed in the conduct of my life.
God's character is righteous, meaning everything that is right in conduct and inner character. We all have an immediate, intuitive awareness of that truth. The proof that I know Him and am ready to meet Him is in my conduct as it reveals that character: "Everyone who does what is right has been born of him" (v. 29). I do not have to guess. There is a definite family likeness in God's family—righteousness as a practice.
A Present Dignity Encourages Those Who Shall Be Like Him
Believers recognize that present dignity. It is an exclamation and an astonishment: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us" (3:1). We should never lose the wonder of the unearthly love that God has given us which is foreign to human experience. That God took hostile rebels and made them obedient children defies comparison.
Yet the world does not recognize us as children of God. We look very much like everyone else around us. There are no halos, angel's wings, or beams of light shining from us. The world around us has no conception of who we are; the world cannot have (1 Cor. 2:14). Far from discouraging us, this is a prime motivation; it is evidence that we really belong to God.
The deeper reason the world does not recognize us is that the world did not recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God when He came (3:1). The world did not recognize the Son of God, and it does not today recognize the sons of God. Christians are not "in." We are definitely "out." This is a proof that we belong to Him.
A Promised Destiny Motivates Those Who Shall Be Like Him
We live between the "now" and the "not yet." We now have the dignity of being the children of God. We do not yet have the destiny of being the children of God.
Our destiny is conceded: "what we will be has not yet been known." Our future state of existence cannot be imagined. We do not have the faculties to understand it. We can no more understand the world to come than our house cat could appreciate Mozart. We see through a glass darkly (1 Cor. 13:12). Our best conception of the life to come is like looking into a bad mirror.
Our destiny is compared: "we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). We may rest in this. When we gaze at Him, we shall instantly be made like Him. Even now the contemplation of our Lord Jesus changes us (2 Cor. 3:18). In the future His power will enable Him to bring all things under His control and He "will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body" (Phil. 3:21). This will happen as a result of the impact of seeing Him as He is.
Our destiny is compelling: "Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure" (1 John 3:4). This compulsion is comprehensive and inclusive, "Everyone." There will be no exceptions in this preparation. Without holiness no one will see the Lord. Do not entertain false hopes in that regard. Those who prepare for the encounter practice a habitual and strenuous self-purification. The word indicates purity maintained with effort in the midst of defilements. While "the blood of Jesus Christ. . . cleanseth us from all sin" (1:7, KJV), we also actively and watchfully purify ourselves inwardly and outwardly. Just as we prepare carefully for other meetings, we must prepare ultimately for this meeting.