In the December 5, 2016 issue of Nature Chemical Biology, scientists at the Salk Institute describe their discovery of a human microprotein that affects genetic material in cells. “You can sequence the whole human genome and never know a protein . . . was there because it’s too short and falls below the usual length requirement for gene assignment algorithms,” says Alan Saghatelian, one of the authors.
Our study this month will focus on some of the shorter letters in the New Testament, and we’ll discover that these small books contain great wisdom that can affect every part of our lives. We begin with the letter of 1 John. Rather than open with greetings, the first verses proclaim the Incarnation itself. Using language of personal experience, John declares: “that which was from the beginning” (v. 1) has been “heard,” “seen,” “looked at,” and “touched.” This “Word of life” has “appeared” (vv. 1–2).
This is not some grand ideal or abstract notion—it is the reality of the eternal Word taking on flesh in our world (see John 1:14). The physical, sensory truth of the Incarnation is the first affirmation of 1 John.
Second, the consequence flowing from the Incarnation is eternal life—“the eternal life, which was with the Father” (v. 2). Eternal life is not an abstraction but a person, and that Life has now come and appeared to us, bringing life itself to our world.
Third, because the Word of Life came bringing life, we can proclaim and share this with others, creating true fellowship (koinonia). This koinonia is the glue of the Christian community. More than coffee with friends after a service, it is “fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (v. 3). The joy of true Christian fellowship finds its foundation in the Incarnation of Christ.