*As he is, so are we in the world* (1 John 4:17). Of all the New Testament writers John states the greatest truths in simplest terms. He clothes profundity with simplicity. Our text is a good sample. Can you say it in shorter words? Can you say a greater truth in any words?
There are many interpretations and applications of this text. It deals with love and judgment and identification with Christ. If He abides in us and we in Him, we need not be afraid or ashamed at the great judgment day. Perfect love casts out fear. Christ will never come into judgment and neither will we. The applications of the text stretch out in all directions but I want to look at it in its simplest form, just as it stands: *As he is, so are we in this world.*
These nine little words fall into three sets of three words each. As He is . . . so are we . . . in this world.
*As He is.* Not as He was. Between the eternity of yesterday that never had a beginning and the eternity of a tomorrow that never will end, stands Jesus Christ the same. There is only one thing that Jesus Christ ever was; He was dead. *I am he that liveth and was dead.* . . . but He is not dead now! He didn*t stay dead. After the crucifixion Pilat and Herod and Caiaphas might have rubbed their hands and said, *That takes care of Him,* but it didn*t. They rolled a stone before that sepulcher, set a guard of soldiers and attached a seal but they did not take into consideration a mighty angel. Stones and soldiers and seals are no match for mighty angels. That angel rolled the stone away and sat on it as if to say, *Now look who*s in charge around here!*
Jesus said: *I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore.* He said, *Before Abraham was, I am.* John had seen Jesus in the days of His flesh, and in His resurrection body . . . and then he saw Him in His glorified body and it knocked him out. It might knock out Sunday morning church-goers to have such a glimpse of Him in His glory. I guarantee you that we would not come out of the church the way we generally do. *As He is.* Jesus Christ is the Eternal Contemporary. All the false messiahs of this world are dead and buried. Mohammed, Confucius and Buddha are dead. We do not visit the mausoleum of a dead Saviour. There is a sepulcher in Jerusalem which some say is the grave where they buried Him but He is not in it!
No mortal can with Him compare
Among the sons of men.
The infinitude of Jesus never leaves Him in a past tense. He forever is!
The text does not say *As he is so we should be* or *shall be.* In a Christian, Christ lives again. If you say *But I don*t see many professing Christians who bear much resemblance to Him,* I answer that most of them may be just church members or babes in the faith who need to grow by spiritual food, rest and exercise until Christ is formed in them. Christians are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. If only we would be what we are!
And finally the text says, *As he is so are we in this world.* *Like Him* of all things! And *in this world* of all places! Not just in church on Sunday where it is not too difficult to look pious, or in some favored spot *far from the maddening crowd*s ignoble strife,* but in this foul, wicked world, this perverted Sodom and Gomorrah, in the old rat race every day. Jesus lived in this world and had nowhere to lay His head. He had a hard time here and left us a legacy of tribulation and suffering, and we must take our share of what is left in the fellowship of that suffering. This world is not our home. It is no friend of grace *to help us on to God.* It is no more kindly disposed toward Jesus Christ than it ever was. He said it hated Him and would hate us. I hope we remember that when we sing at church so casually, *To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear.* If you are under any illusions about the attitude of this world toward Jesus Christ, try really living for Him for a week and you will soon find out!
He said, *As thou (the Father) hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.* What we believe is important, but a man may believe correctly with his head and still be without any change of heart. What we do is important, but a man may do what a Christian ought to do and still be an unconverted Pharisee. Creed and conduct have their place but we are dealing here with character; not what we believe and do, but what we are. *So are we in this world.* A man is not the sum total of what he thinks in his head and does with his hands, but what he is in his heart. Christians are not just nice people. They are new creatures. If you are what you have always been you are not a Christian. A Christian is something new; old things have passed away and all things are become new.
The scriptures tell us that Christians are married to Christ. When a woman marries a man she takes him for all he is, for better or worse . . . and sometimes he turns out to be worse than she took him for! When we receive Christ as Saviour and Lord, all that He has becomes ours and all we have becomes His. It is high time we discovered the magnitude of this exchange when we equate it with just joining a church.
All things are His and all things are ours, except ourselves. We are not our own; *we are bought with a price.* We are Christ*s and Christ is God*s. His friends are our friends. *Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.* A friend of Jesus is one who obeys Him. That automatically rules out a multitude of church members! What we call fellowship sometimes when we gossip over our coffee at a church supper is often just sociability under religious auspices and not the communion of saints.
His enemies are our enemies. Paul writes of *enemies of the cross of Christ.* The friend of the world is the enemy of God. A wife who is eighty-five percent faithful to her husband is not faithful at all. Christians cannot be popular with a world that crucified the Saviour. As the Master so must the servant be. His cross is ours. Simeon prophesied that Jesus would be *spoken against.* The Jews in Rome said of the cause of Christ, *Everywhere it is spoken against* . . . not popular. We who follow Him must ever consent to be called the scum of the earth, a spectacle to the world for the scandal of the cross.
His future is our future. If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him. We shall inherit the earth and judge the world. And in the world to come,
Then we shall be where we would be,
Then we shall be what we should be;
Things that are not now, nor could be,
Soon shall be our own.
It may not look it now but Satan has only a lease on this earth; we have the deed!
Are you married to the Heavenly Bridegroom? I invite you to the greatest of all altars to say: *I take Jesus. His life shall be my life, His joys my joys, His sorrows my sorrows, His friends my friends, His cross my cross, not just until death but for time and eternity, I am His and He is mine.
O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end.
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my friend.
I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side,
No wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide.*
For as He is, so are we in this world!