April 29, 2020
The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
Here again, as in verse 1, John reiterates that he is an eyewitness to something extraordinary. As an eyewitness, he can now testify and proclaim what he has seen. If you imagine a courtroom drama, John is in on the witness stand while an attorney is making the case. He was at the scene of the accident and saw it all unfold.
When it comes to telling others about Jesus, do you see yourself as the witness or the attorney? John’s language makes clear that “ . . . life appeared.” Eternal life, which was with the Father, appeared to him and the other disciples. He’s not arguing a point, merely communicating what he saw. In this courtroom analogy, God is the one making the point.
There are examples in scripture of Paul taking the role of attorney and arguing the case for Christ. But for some of us, that doesn’t feel like a good fit. Usually, as John describes, and as Jesus often demonstrated, our actions speak far louder than our words. Our words serve primarily to testify what we have seen God do. Why then do we so often take the role of attorney upon ourselves? Why do we try to argue others into God’s good graces? If you feel uncomfortable in the role of an attorney, focus instead on bearing witness. If you have only ever seen yourself as an intellectual defender of the faith, try leaning on your actions to add nuance and depth to your words. Today, reflect on this quote often attributed to St Francis of Assisi.
Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.