Do you struggle to remember the name of someone you just met? Does it bother you when you can’t remember someone’s name? It bothers me. I feel like I am dishonoring this person because I couldn’t remember the most basic piece of information about them: what they call themselves.
I have learned that I CAN remember names when I make the effort and apply myself to the process. Most of my life I have told myself the lie that “I’m bad with names. I can’t remember people’s names.” One day I put that lie to the test. I went to WinCo (no, not to buy toilet paper) to meet someone new. I was just going to walk up to someone, strike up a conversation with them, learn their name and see if I could remember it. So, I went up to the security guard standing outside the main exit, and started talking.
“Hey, it’s a nice day to be standing outside.” I said. “
Yeah, better then being in an office!” He replied.
“How do you like working out here like this.”
“It’s good,” he said, “it’s a job, pays the bills.”
“Does anything interesting ever happen?”
“Most of the time I just have to tell people they can’t park here to load their groceries.”
I was far enough into the conversation it was time to ask his name or walk away. So, I worked up a little courage and said: “My name’s David, it’s nice to meet you.”
Do you know what happened? He replied with his name. Do you know what it was? Damon. To this day I can remember his name. He was a nice guy, worth getting to know as most people are.
Sadly, I’m not always that intentional. In fact, I’m rarely that intentional. I know I CAN, I just DON’T. Another sad thing also happens to me.
I’ve been in full-time ministry for 20 years now. In that time I’ve worked with thousands of different people. From choir, worship team, sound and tech, teachers preachers and small group leaders, there have been a lot of people. What’s sad to me is when I recognize someone’s face that I worked with, sweated alongside in some capacity, but I can’t remember their name. It’s awful.
Do you ever do that? Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever experience that same problem?
Today, I’m not going to solve that problem, but a related one. (You can remember names, often times you just have to stop telling yourself that you can’t. Try it!) Let’s look at 1 Jn 4:17b “Just as He is, so also are we in this world.”
Especially in the context of verses 16 and 17, what does John mean by this phrase? The context is abiding in God by loving one another; and to have confidence on the day of judgement instead of fear because…”As He is, so also are we in this world.”
What’s John getting at? Probably a couple of things.
1.) We are like Christ. There’s no way we could really get into this today in depth. In fact, I’m working on a book that wrestles with this idea in much more detail. But, John is saying that somehow we are like Christ. But how?
2.) John is definitely giving us assurance that we don’t need to fear God’s punishment when we are abiding in the love of the Father by loving one another. That’s clear. In 3:1, John said that we are children of God by the Love the Father has lavished on us. And in 3:16 he says that we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Earlier in the letter, John said: “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” As we said Sunday and yesterday, we don’t have to fear God’s judgement when we are genuinely loving one another. (Go listen to yesterday’s podcast for more on this.)
But, what is John really getting at here? Well, it helps to know the context of the entire letter. John wrote this letter to deal with the gnosticism that was starting to creep into the church that was leading people to a higher secret knowledge other than Jesus. A big part of John’s motive in this letter was to keep the church on the right path.
1 Jn 3:7-8: “7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
John was giving the people tests. Remember that from the beginning of this series? He wanted the people to test the Spirits to see if they were from God or the antichrist. Then he went right into God’s love. What do you think John is doing talking about love and being like Christ in this world?
He is telling us how to identify followers of Jesus.
In other words love is the earmark of a true follower of Jesus. A person who lays down their life for a brother or sister in Christ is a true follower.
It’s not just the name that matters, it’s what’s in that name. You can call yourself a Christian, but if there isn’t any love to back that up, there’s nothing in that name. That’s part of the reason the name of Christ is so weak right now. There are too many believers who aren’t sacrificially loving one another.
Not only does God never forget our name. He knows us by what we do. I can remember people I’ve served with by their face and that we did some worship ministry together. You can probably remember the people you served alongside in various ways. Well, God remembers us in the same way. For those of us who are His children, he looks on the way we love one another like Christ loved us and he never forgets it.
It’s not just God that is affected by it either. It’s how we shine our light. When we are living a life that shines, people are drawn to the light of Christ in us. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
“Actor Cary grant once told how he was walking along a street and met a fellow whose eyes locked onto him with excitement. The man said, “Wait a minute, you’re…you’re-I know who you are; don’t tell me-Uh, Rock Hud…No, you’re…
“Grant thought he’ help him, so he finished the man’s sentence: ‘Cary Grant.’
“The fellow responded, “No, that’s not it! You’re…”
When we’re walking in the light as He is in the light, sacrificially loving one another, people may encounter us and have a strange feeling like they know us. They may come up to you and say, “You look familiar to me, is your name…” And even though they’ve never met us before and have no idea who we are or what our name is, they recognize something about us. They are identifying Christ in us.
In this world we are like Jesus. As we live in love, we are like Christ. And, though they may never know our name, people will know who it is they are recognizing in us. It’s Jesus.