Christians Unknown
1 John 3:1-6
Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not…

If we were to ask worldly men what is the difference between Christians and themselves, we should suppose, from their answer, that it was very trifling and of small moment. They appear to think that the distinction between the people of God and the world has no foundation except in the self-righteous conceits of those who assert it. But is there no foundation for it in truth?

1. From Scripture language and examples we should not expect that the worldly would readily perceive the difference between Christians and themselves. Here it is expressly asserted that Christians should be in a great measure unknown in the world. Again, the life of the believer is called a hidden life: "Your life is hid with Christ in God," and the spirit of piety is called "the hidden man of the heart." And again, when we remember how Jesus and His apostles were regarded we may readily suppose that the Christian now would be unknown in the world.

2. Those who are not Christians are not qualified to judge of the difference between themselves and those who are Christians. Were an ignorant and a learned man to be placed in company with each other, which would perceive most clearly their difference of attainment? Why, the ignorant man would realise perhaps that there was some inferiority on his part, but upon the whole would be very well satisfied with himself. Just so is it in the present case; no one is qualified to decide whether Christians differ from others unless he is himself a Christian.

3. The distinction between Christians and others is of such a character that it is not easily noticed by the worldly. The qualities which the world admires are obtrusive and showy, but those which religion cherishes are humble and unobtrusive, and, like certain modest flowers, prized by those who value and seek after them, but despised by the unthinking.

4. The worldly hear all the dissensions among the various denominations of Christians, and they see everything that is discreditable, but they enter not into the secret and chief blessedness of religion. Like strangers on the shore of an unknown country, who behold great barrenness and desolation, hear the dashing of the waves, and are ready to conclude it is a most dismal region, while farther in than they have ever penetrated there may be pleasant and fertile fields.

5. It is to the prejudice of Christians that the worst representatives of their profession are most prominently before the world, while the more worthy are more concealed. Is there among those with whom we are acquainted a professor who has more zeal than knowledge? — his character will be well known; his sayings will be often repeated, with the bitter remark that such things are enough to disgust one with religion. But is there one that glorifies God by patience under affliction, by striving to bring his heart and life to correspond with God's Word, by humble efforts to do good, by a life of prayer and self-denial? Ah, the attention of the world is never drawn to such as these; they pass through it unknown.

(W. H. Lewis, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

WEB: Behold, how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! For this cause the world doesn't know us, because it didn't know him.

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