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Second Sunday of Easter

[1 John 1:3] “…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”


That They Too May Have Fellowship with Us

This is said so often that it’s become cliché – but, nevertheless, we’ll say it – the world around us has become increasingly polarized. “Us versus them.” It is true that, in recent years, an “us versus them” mindset has increased and become more entrenched.

Maybe we shouldn’t expect any better from the world, but each of us truly can and should expect better from our own selves. Each one of us has been redeemed by Christ-Crucified to be something different. “Us versus them” is not meant to be the status quo mindset for believers in Christ.

“Us versus them” is not the norm in the baptized child of God. It is the norm in our old sinful nature which still clings to us. Therefore, this is one of those things that we are called to daily repent of and put away. And there is a new way of thinking that we are to daily take up.

The early Christian community which we read briefly about in Acts 4:32-35 is an example for us, both in their mindset toward each other and toward the world around them. “The full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.”

This is not a proposal about the economy or politics – but it is a description of a people whose way of thinking changed. “My” and “mine” were no longer the dominant thoughts.

Instead, there was dedication to a common goal. Perhaps, dedication to the “new commandment” of their crucified and risen Savior to “love each other as I have loved you” – and to show the world whose disciples they are by their love for one another [John 13:34-35].

And we see in this reading – and in our second reading [1 John 1:1–2:2] – dedication to the common goal of proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus to the world around them. “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”

They knew who they were and what their calling was. The goal of the gospel – of proclaiming the resurrection of their Savior – shaped their heart and mind toward one another. And – this is the main point today – it shaped the mentality of their hearts and minds toward the world around them.

In the church, you are not alone. The church is the body of those who believe in Christ. In the church, together, you have fellowship with God, your Creator, through Jesus Christ, His Son, your Redeemer.

These early Christians had that fellowship with God through Jesus, and suffered much adversity from the world around them. Persecuted in their homeland, and then persecuted abroad. Hated, and sometimes put to death, for proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus.

Yet, by and large, they did not fall prey to the mindset of “us versus them.”

Their hearts and minds were dedicated to winning men and women for Christ instead of saying, “It’s us versus them.”

In the face of a world that was actively persecuting them – and which advanced the same forms of sin and immorality you see in your world – the Christians said, “We are here for them – that they too may gain knowledge of their Savior, be redeemed from sin, and receive this same salvation that we have received in Jesus Christ.”

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands… we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” [1 John 1:1-3]

The Apostle John and all the apostles – and five hundred other disciples – saw, heard, witnessed, and even touched their resurrected Savior. Jesus met with the apostles in the upper room on Easter evening. He showed them His hands and side. He spoke to them, “Peace be with you.”

What they had seen and heard, they went out and proclaimed so that – as Jesus promised – others would also receive the forgiveness of sins in the fellowship of the church, the body of Christ. [John 20:19-23]

What do you hear and see in your fellowship in the church?

In this fellowship here, you are gathered in the name of Jesus, and therefore the risen, living Jesus is in your midst when you gather, as He promised – “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them” [Matthew 18:20; Matthew 28:20].

Here, you have deliverance from darkness and the forgiveness of your wrongdoing – “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” [Colossians 1:13-14]

“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” – here you have fellowship in His light – “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 cleanses us from all sin.” [1 John 1:5-7]

Here, we find a place to be honest about ourselves, not needing to convince ourselves we’re doing better than we are: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:8-9]

Here, in fellowship with God our Creator, and with His Son, our Redeemer, we have a place where – by God’s power – we are learning how to do better and become better men and women.

At the same time, in the same place, we are met with mercy and new beginnings when we fail or fall: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” [1 John 2:1]

What we have here is the best thing on earth, the best thing in the world – when we remember why we are here, what we are gathered for, and what our mission is.

And what we have here is for us to share: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” [1 John 2:2]

Not “us versus them”, but “Us for them” with the Gospel, that they too may find salvation in their Redeemer. Amen.

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