Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Is Seeing Believing? (1 John 1:1-4)

Most people today won't believe anything without clear evidence to support it. They want to see truth, touch it, taste it before they make a decision, especially if it's a decision about their own life. They would agree that seeing is believing. And all this sounds quite reasonable to me.


John seems to think he has overwhelmingly strong tangible evidence and experience of something. He's talking about something that he says he's seen with his own eyes, heard with his own ears and that he's touched with his own hands. This sounds like some solid evidence. The amazing and incredible bit though, is that this thing he's talking about is something eternal! It's not something we would normally expect to be able to see, hear and touch physically. It's not just something godly - John is talking about God himself! John is saying something amazing - that he has seen, heard and touched God himself! He's saying he's had a real encounter with the Creator of the universe - the one who was there in the beginning of time - the one who appeared in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ - the one who gives life to all, the one who offers us eternal life - the one who wants to have a friendship with us all. Blimey!

How can John be so sure? I think it's about two main things:
  1. Reasonable and logical evidence. Most historians agree that the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were all written within living memory of Jesus. If you read the start of Luke's gospel, you can see the care they took over getting their sources right. Saying something false and wildly wrong about Jesus in the gospels would have been discredited very quickly. It would be the same as writing a biography about John Lennon and claiming that he could fly like a bird and grow a pink beard! People would laugh at it because they knew him personally or knew people who knew him personally and they would know that it was a load of made up rubbish. The gospels were written this quickly after the life of Jesus and so any ridiculous statements about him would never have lasted for 2000 years!
  2. Personal experience. John's writing on a personal level. He's not just got his sources right but he's had a personal encounter with Jesus himself. In John's day, this could have meant that he actually and physically met Jesus Christ in the flesh while he was living on earth 2000 years ago. In our day, people have a similar kind of encounter on a spiritual level and they would say that this is just as real and vivid as meeting him physically.
What evidence do you have for God? Have you got your sources right? Have you carefully examined the story? What are you convinced about? What are you not convinced about?

Have you met God? What experiences have you ever had of him? What conclusions have you come to?

John's point is not to cause arguments or intellectual debates but to bring his readers joy and to 'complete' their joy! What joy do you have from understanding and encountering the living God? Think and pray on this!

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