Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. […] Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. – 1 John 5:1-12, edited
“Whoever has the Son has life, and whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Like many Christians I used to read this verse and cringe because it sounds so exclusive. I mean, we know Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me” but where it comes to reaching others, or even spiritual teaching within the church, we don’t usually start there. We usually start with “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life…”
But recently I’m coming to understand these passages another way. The quotation from John above points in the right direction.
Here’s the thing: we were created for eternity. All of us. This life here on earth is just the beginning. Compared to what lies ahead, it is the blink of an eye. The point of this life is to prepare for the next one. And the next one will be nothing like this one. What John is talking about is not a question of exclusivity, but a matter of dealing with reality.
Remember the story Jesus told about the wise and foolish maidens:
Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. – Matthew 25:1-10
So how do we go about having enough oil on hand as the story advises? Oil in scripture represents the Holy Spirit… so we need to do things that make the Spirit feel at home in us. John says obedience is the key, and he’s right, but that’s because *through* obedience we begin to see things God’s way, to gain His perspective. And from there Truth becomes a part of us, and Love becomes a part of us and the oil of the Spirit pours into us.
There is a heavenly reality, a spiritual realm, that the Western mindset — rooted as it is in ancient Greek philosophy and Renaissance systems of logic — is blind to. And the whole point of life is to prepare for life in that realm.
“Whoever loves the parent loves the child.” Anyone who is a parent knows this is true.
God is our parent, and Jesus is His Son and our brother. Believe, receive, follow, and grow into a spiritual child of God.