We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life (1John 1:1)
In John’s opening line of his first letter, he immediately grounds everything he is about to say in the human senses. There is not a complex philosophical argument, but rather John talks of his encounter with the Word made flesh. What he has heard, seen and touched. We can sometimes get too caught up in ever-increasing complexity as we look at the vast numbers of books written on God, the Bible, and theology. We can lose the tangible relationship we have with Jesus and end up turning our faith into nothing but dry knowledge.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible, especially when I was at university studying theology comes from Proverbs:
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. (Proverbs 12:12)
This can certainly be true, if knowledge is our only goal then our faith will become dry and will not be life-giving. The Christian life is not about knowledge only but rather is about relationship. Relationship with the Risen Jesus. We must remember that the word became flesh and dwelt among us. Not something abstract and aloof, but real and physical and tangible.
The poet Edwin Muir in their Poem ‘The Incarnate One’ says:
The Word made flesh here is made word again
And Karl Bath said
The Word became flesh – and then through theologians became word again
This should act as a warning to us, that we must be careful not to retreat from the flesh and turn our faith into nothing more than a series of abstract language games.
And so John says in the opening chapter of his letter:
We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ. (1John 1:3)
So never forget that fellowship with one another and with Jesus is what it is all about. Encounter Jesus the word made flesh and don’t let Him become word again.
One thought on “1John 1 – A Tangible Relationship”
Yes, and a thousand times yes. This is everything I’ve been thinking about lately; thanks for articulating it so well. By the way, that Karl Barth quote still gets me every time.
LikeLiked by 1 person