Verse 1c: The World Does Not Know Us
See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him.
One of the realities of our adoption and regeneration as the children of God is that the world no longer understands us because it did not understand our Father.
“The reason the word does not know us is that it didn’t know him”: the world’s failure to know God is one of the basic themes of the Gospel of John (John 5:37; 7:28; 16:3), and the disconnect between the children of God and the world is one of the distinguishing marks of God’s children in this strange world.
This is one of the principle realities of Christian discipleship:
John 15:19–21 (CSB) — If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they don’t know the one who sent me.
The temptation to fit in with this world and become relevant is folly for anyone who wishes to become “the child of God”. If your aim is to be born of God, then you must know that you will no longer be recognized in this world and the world will hate you because it did not understand your Father and hated him.
Therefore, in the same way that John is calling his beloved children to see how God gave us Christ (John 3:16; cf. “sent” in Gal 4:4), and implicitly that Christ “gave himself” (Gal 1:4; 1 Tim 2:6), John is also calling his beloved children to accept their alienation from this world as gain for the sake of Christ:
Philippians 3:7–11 (CSB) — But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.
The disciple who wishes to become one of God’s children must be willing to lose everything; their reputation, their community, their possessions, and even their relationships in this world are all on the line when we come to the foot of Christ’s cross.
The imperative force of this proposition demands that each one of us “count the cost” of following Christ and be prepared to pick up the cross and follow him wherever he leads:
Matthew 10:37–39 (CSB) — The one who loves a father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; the one who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it.
The believer must be prepared for the loss of all things in this world because the world hates our Father.