There are many jokes, proverbs, stereotyping sayings – whatever you wish to call them – that play on where people come from. As I was growing up in Derbyshire, I used to hear that people said of us, “Derbyshire born and Derbyshire bred, strong in t‘arm and thick in t’head”. I guess we’ve all heard grim jokes about Irish people, and similar jokes are told in other countries but different peoples – the Greeks tell them about the Bulgarians, for example.
In John’s Gospel, knowing where Jesus comes from (“above”, “the Father”) is particularly important in understanding his person and his work. In this verse from the first epistle of John, we have a similar sort of theology in action. We are to be children of God, and how we behave and who we are is going to help others identity where we’re from. We are born of the righteous Christ if we show his righteousness.
There’s a question that gets asked of folk sometimes today when another seeks to understand them: ‘where are you coming from?’ What are the origins or your ideas? What is your belief system rooted in? Why do you do the things you do? And one of the most powerful, and actually one of the least scary, ways of talking about our faith today is when someone asks us for our motivation for doing something. Why do you work in a food bank? Why do you run this toddler group? These questions give us an opening to talk … and I would say, isn’t that what John is encouraging from us here? Act in such a way that people recognise you are rooted in Christ and that that is where you’re coming from.