Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2 KJV
Sometime in the long ago, a comparatively small piece of granite got pushed up out of the ground outside what would one day be called Atlanta, Georgia. Because it juts out so prominently it attracts attention. According to the promo, Stone Mountain attracts approximately 4 million tourists per year. Now, do you think all 4,000,000 of those people travel to Atlanta just to see a big rock? Hardly. For features have been built on and around it in order to attract a much greater crowd. Things like a big carving on the side of the rock, a sky lift, laser-light shows, etc. I haven't been there yet, though one day I may become one of those 4 million tourists.
The problem with attractions is that the exploitation of such anomalies does damage not only to the thing itself but also to the surrounding area. The land around it merely becomes the road one has to travel in order to get there. Man-made signs are erected for miles in every direction to let tourists know that there is something worth seeing in the area. Hotels and restaurants spring up to house and feed the influx of tourists who come to see the attraction. In order to get more dollars out of these walking moneybags more attractions are built around the theme of the exploited natural resource. The result is that no one really sees the surrounding area for what it is. And though you may imagine that we at least see the main attraction we have, instead, been caught up in the distorted hype.
The same distortion has caused us to set some people above others and call them celebrities while the rest of humanity is left in the shadows of the greatness of the machine that makes celebrities out of those who APPEAR more prominent.
The exact same thing has happened to Bible verses.
1 John 3:2 is one of those tourist attractions of the Bible. Along with a few other such verses we have become dazzled by the prospect of a heavenly glory that causes our lives to pale in comparison. And so we are left with the consolation that one day things will be all better ... and we trudge along with this hope.
What if John never intended to create a heaven-hype? For stone masons, Stone Mountain is merely an announcement that the whole area is rich in unseen granite. What if John's mention of what shall be has a similar design to it? What if he wrote about a reality that WILL be seen in the future in order to assure us about that same reality that CANNOT be seen right now?
Now, I have no intention of reducing the reality of what SHALL be! No, no, not at all. For the full-grown expression of a life reveals what is usually not recognized in its earlier stages of growth. In other words, nothing can develop FROM a life that is not contained IN that life.
Consider a tomato seed. It sprouts and grows and eventually produces tomatoes with seeds within each piece of fruit. The ripened tomato is no more tomato than the seed from which it grew. Now, would it be accurate to say that the seed is less than the fruit it bears? Does the fully-grown tomato cause you to think less of the seed or the young plant in any way? Is the tomato plant inferior until it eventually becomes something of worth? Or does the end result, instead, convince you that THE SEED CONTAINS THE TOMATO? And doesn't this truth give you a totally different perspective of the young stages of the tomato? The final product gives you a true estimation of the worth and nature of the seed and the young plant.
Then why do we get the opposite sense from John's words about the true worth and nature of those who will appear just like HIM? Hmm? Do we not know what it means to have been born of God? Do we not know that John turned our attention toward the APPEARANCE of our real life that's going to APPEAR EXACTLY LIKE HIS LIFE because AT THIS TIME IT JUST DOESN'T LOOK THAT WAY? It's NOW that we need to hear that the life within us is the same life that one day will be revealed as the exact reflection of His own.
Now, looking forward to a time when CIRCUMSTANCES are different from this world is one thing (and it gives much hope during times of hardship); but looking forward to a future life that is MADE OF something different from the life that is NOW within me has NOTHING to do with the truth of Christ. But this is ALL we see anymore from all the built up distortion of heaven-hype. Don't you recognize the difference? Don't you realize how you have been taught to look down upon your life here and now as if there was something inferior about it? How often do you think about heaven and gain the confidence that you are NOW as righteous as Christ? It doesn't happen, does it? But it is EXACTLY what John was writing about.
I will continue this in the next Shoveletter ...