1 John 1:1–4: Truth
For all the ways Jesus could have described our relationship to him, he chose to call us his “disciples.” The Greek word we translate as “disciple” literally means “learner,” which means that at the most basic level, following Jesus means learning more about him all the days of our lives. Being a disciple of Jesus means we are called to learn about his nature, his identity, his character, his great work of salvation, and his instructions for us.
The word disciple is closely related to the word discipline—not the angry discipline of a cranky teacher, but the discipline that an inspiring teacher, coach, or mentor helps us to achieve to pursue a goal. Just as the discipline of music, writing, painting, or sculpting is something that a disciple would spend a lifetime perfecting, so following Jesus is a lifelong journey to grow in our understanding, love, and faith in Jesus.
This also means that there are not any quick and easy ways of learning as disciples. Do you ever read a passage from the Bible that you don’t understand? Do you ever deal with situations that you don’t think a righteous God ought to have allowed? Do you ever stay up late into the night, praying to God for answers that never seem to come? If so, then you have shared in the common, agonizing, truth-seeking experience of every other follower of Jesus throughout history. Part of learning to follow Jesus means learning to trust that he is gracious, loving, and wise even when he chooses not to reveal to us all that we desire to know.
But at the end of the day, Christian truth is characterized not by agony but by joy—or, better, Christian truth is characterized by joy in the midst of agony. Even when following Jesus becomes especially hard, Jesus calls his disciples to continue trusting in him, believing that he is the only place we can find real truth that will satisfy and delight us throughout eternity. As Jesus’ disciples, we cannot hedge our bets by looking for truth anywhere else—not because we ourselves have all the answers, but because we believe that Jesus does. Whether he chooses to answer a given question is not the point. Instead, Christian discipleship means recognizing that whatever truth we learn, we will learn it from him.
1. When we think and talk about truth, are we thinking and talking about a person? What would change in our thinking, speaking, and living if we were?
2. The Apostle John balances the necessity of every individual’s faith with the necessity of fellowship with the larger church. Do you emphasize one side over the other? What would need to change practically in your life if you struck a more biblical balance?