Bonded unwittingly
David Good was reared in USA by his father, an anthropologist. His mother, a Yanamama tribal woman had tried for a couple of years to adapt to American culture. Unable to do so, she had returned to her native Amazon jungle when David was only five years old. Although he had blanked her completely from his conscious thoughts, at twenty-five years of age David decided to revisit his birthplace.
Having heard the sound of the boat’s engine a mile off, most of the village assembled on the riverbank awaiting its arrival. He soon learned that his mother was not among them as she was collecting plantain in the forest. Since tribal people live in the present, when mother and son were reunited both trembled and wept for joy in an instant relationship, each touching the other’s shoulders. And one man excitedly told David he was his uncle.
Although mother had remarried within the tribe and produced another son, when she spoke via Skype to David’s father (who had never remarried), both parents communicated with such warmth and animation that David could see he was the product of genuine love and mutual respect. In fact, father, who had been engaged to her when she was just eight, had waited another eight years before marrying her.
Using this true story as a backdrop, let’s consider John’s parallel spiritual observations in his first letter, introduced nine times with the phrase ‘By this we know that …’ (see 1 John 2:3,5; 3:16,19,24; 4:2,6,13; 5:2). John consistently uses the word ginosko, indicating an inner relational knowledge (yet elsewhere he favours oida that implies knowing by mental observation, 1 John 2:11,20,21,21,29a; 3:2,5,15; 5:13, 14,15,15,18,19,20a).
 What we know:
- a) We are in God’s family:
- ‘that we have come to know him’ (1 John 2:3)
- ‘that we are in him’ (1 John 2:5; 3:24; 4:13)
- ‘that he is in us’ (1 John 3:24; 4:13)
- ‘that we are of the truth’ (1 John 3:19, compare 1 John 5:20-21)
- b) What true love is, because his Son ‘laid down his life for us’ (1 John 3:16)
- c) We love the children of God (1 John 5:2)
- d) We discern erroneous spirits and their teachings by the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth who diametrically opposes them (1 John 4:2,6)
 How then we should behave:
- express a sound confession (1 John 4:2)
- enjoy clearance from condemnation (1 John 3:19-21)
- engage with the indwelling Counsellor (1 John 3:24; 4:13)
- enact his commandments (1 John 2:3; 5:2), indeed, his whole word (1 John 2:5)
- enter actively the life of his community – listening to, and laying down our lives for one another (1 John 4:6; 3:16)