“Word for Today” – 1 John 1 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

November 6, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

Pronouns 1On a fairly consistent basis, I am called upon to answer questions from people who email the church looking for information concerning Concordia’s beliefs, practices, or ministries.  Because these emails are not sent specifically to me, but to the church in general, I try to stay keenly aware that I am answering on behalf of my beloved congregation.   Therefore, I am very careful and precise in how I answer these questions because I want to present Concordia in the best light possible.  It is with this in mind that I have developed an intentional grammatical habit.  Whenever I write someone on behalf of Concordia, I use first person plural pronouns rather than first person singular ones.  For example, if I was to share Concordia’s mission, I would write, “We want to shine like stars in the universe” rather than “I want to shine like a star in the universe” because I am writing on behalf of the congregation.  My hope, when writing such letters, is that the person to whom I am writing will eventually become a part of that first personal plural pronoun.  For we at Concordia have a deep and abiding passion to welcome more and more people into our beloved family of faith.

The deep and abiding passion that runs through Concordia is clearly shared by the apostle John in our reading for today from 1 John 1.  John, although writing personally, begins his letter with a communal pronoun:  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (verse 1).  If John is the singular author of this letter, why would he use the plural pronoun “we”?  Because John is not just writing for himself, he’s writing on behalf of the apostles.  For all of the apostles had seen with their eyes and touched with their hand God’s very Word of life, Jesus Christ.  And not only that, they received a message from him:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  (verses 5-8)

A significant shift in the referent of the first person plural pronouns occurs at verse 6.  In verses 1-4, John’s “we” refers only to John and his apostolic band.  But in verses 6-9, John uses the first person plural pronoun “we” to refer to the sinfulness of all Christians and how they are all purified by the blood of Christ.  In other words, the “we” of verses 6-9 includes a lot more people than does the “we” of verses 1-4.  And it’s in these pronouns that John’s deep and abiding passion is to be found.  For the “we” of apostles in verses 1-4 proclaims the gospel message to the “you” of verse 5, who subsequently are included in the “we” of all Christians in verses 6-9.  This, then, is the mission of God:  to take people from being “you’s” of the world and make them into “we’s” in the family of God.  God wants his first person plural pronoun of his church to grow larger and larger.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:  God is light; in his there is no darkness at all” (verse 5).  With whom can you share this message today?  There are so many people going through dark times who need the light of Christ to shine on their hearts.  And when his light does shine on their hearts, they become part of us – they become part of God’s “we.”  For they have been purified from all unrighteousness by the blood of Jesus.  Here’s to the growing “we” of God’s Kingdom.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Ephesians 6 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – 1 John 2 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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