Growing up, I hated when people called me “kid.” For example, you might hear “Hey kid, can you grab that rope for me” or “that kid over there is new to school.” It always seemed so belittling and detached, as if “the kid” was an unsubstantial finger-puppet just be-bopping around for no apparent reason, kind of like those promotional “inflatable tube guys” that just teeter and flop to grab a passing glance. “Kid” was a four letter word in my book. Deep down, I knew it was not derogatory, but it would raise my pre-adolescent blood pressure. On the other hand, if my dad or mom called me “kiddo” it was a whole different story. It was a badge of connection and care that drew me in. I wanted to be their “kiddo” because it was familial and warm. It somehow tied my identity to them. But to be honest, the only true difference I can identify between my understanding of “kid” and “kiddo” is closeness, or to put it another way, “knowledge.” When I heard “kid,” it spoke the words “unknown to me” while hearing “kiddo” spoke the words “part of us,” or “I know you.” So, what does this have to do with First John? A pastoral tone breaks out in this section as John addresses his words directly to his audience. Like a concerned grandparent he begins, “My little children.” Were they a bunch of toddlers raiding the raisin cakes, or a group of mischievous youngsters fighting over the day’s flatbread? No. They were his children in the faith. They were to be a legacy to his apostolic life—he “knew” and cared for them. The problem was that the “separatists,” were claiming to have fellowship with God (claiming “I know him”), but felt no desire to obey Him. To use John’s word, they were “liars” passing darkness off as if it were light.
1 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. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Isaac Serrano is Lead Teaching Pastor of South Valley Community Church. He likes talking theology, history, and culture. Isaac lives in Gilroy with his family. On his days off, he likes to go fishing and venture outdoors. Isaac serves on the leadership board for the Regeneration Project and the school board of Pacific Point Christian Schools.