If we knew that an important person was coming to our location we would make appropriate preparations. We would adjust our living in light of how we would want that person to see us. Further, those who would be taking part in any events would rehearse their parts and ensure that all was as it should be. We all know that it would be too late to begin preparations once the individual had arrived.
The New Testament reveals that Jesus Christ is coming back to our world. It says some will be glad to see him and others will not. Those who will not want to see him will be terrified by his appearing and will call on the rocks and mountains to hide them from his wrath. Therefore, we need to know which group we are in. This necessity is enhanced when we recall that Jesus said that there will be a third group present when he returns – those who thought they were serving him, but whom he will deny (Matt. 7:21-23).
To begin with, we should note John’s loving pastoral concern expressed in the intimate way he addresses those who have remained faithful so far to the cause of Jesus. The apostle speaks tenderly to them, addressing them as ‘little children’. He uses this title several times in this letter and it reveals an essential mark of true leadership. A Christlike leader will always be gentle in the way he speaks, even when he is going to deal with difficult matters. John is going to mention a serious requirement, an essential Christian response, but he demands it with a heart full of love to Christ’s flock.
The necessary preparation for the second coming of Jesus is the maintaining of a living relationship with him. We may ask ourselves why John makes this demand. Is it not the case that every believer will continue to abide in Jesus? The answer to the question is ‘no’. After all, those who had gone off and joined the false teachers had once professed to be believers who accepted the teachings of the apostles.
Or maybe the question can be rephrased: Is it not the case that every true believer will abide in Jesus? Again the answer to the question is ‘no’. Some true believers will backslide and fall into sin. Such have forgotten to prepare for the coming of Jesus.
John urges his readers to abide in Christ. The illustration of abiding points to persons who live together in the same house. So when we abide in Christ, it means that we are living with him. We will think tomorrow about what that can mean for us.