I guess I'm of the general impression that a lot of folks who proclaim Christ as their Savior don't necessarily believe that He's still around. Not that they're doing bad things. No, it's not that at all. They do a lot of good things all of the time. A lot of the time, they do that out of a sense of duty or obligation or, maybe more commonly, because they think they'd better keep up the good work because God's going to get them if they don't. Some folks are even doing stuff because somebody else told them that that's what they're supposed to be doing because it's just always been done that particular way!
No, it's more that they don't act as though Jesus is still present (and I mean present as in when you raised your hand in school when attendance was called), nor that God is still working in the minutiae of their lives. You see, John was probably encountering something that we see pretty commonly today: Christians who'd reverted to "check box religion".
Check box religion goes something like this: During the work week I get up, I pray at breakfast, I read a devotional book (or maybe actually read the Bible), I go to work, I pray (if nobody's around) at lunch, I go home, I pray at dinner, and maybe I pray before bed. If there's church activities during the week I go to those. On Sunday, I go to Sunday school and worship, I give, I sing/pray/listen, and I go home. My prayers follow the same pattern each time: a little thanks, a little request, and "in Jesus name, Amen." When a new week starts again, I'm at the same place where I was a week ago, except more dry, brittle, hollow, parched. But I'm doing everything right, aren't I? I mean, that's what the Bible says to do doesn't it?
No. That's not all that the Bible says to do. The Bible says that Jesus accomplished His work here on Earth, then returned victorious to His Father. (Queue Bob Barker ...) But that's not all! Jesus sent us His Spirit, the Holy Ghost, to complete us when we abide in Him. Now abide is an old-fashioned word. In fact, in some of the more recent distortions of the scripture, it's been completely left out. Abide, as John used it, means to dwell, rest, remain, or continue. Are you dwelling with the Lord? Is the Lord dwelling with you? Does He walk the hallways of your home? Does He sit next to you at work? Are you aware that He can be continually present in you? That's right: in you! Listen to what John says: "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." The Holy Ghost's presence in our lives, His abiding in us, is God's seal upon us! (Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30)
You see, my Christian friend, even though Jesus' work is finished, you are not. You are incomplete. You are inadequate. You are unable. You are needy. This is because you are still burdened with what you were and earnestly hoping for what you will become. (Colossians 1:5) Your flesh is weak. Your spirit is willing. (Matthew 26:41) The Helper, the Comforter, fills the gaps. Jesus said that it was "expedient" that He go away so that the Holy Spirit might come. (John 16:7). Jesus, our Lord and Savior, sent the Holy Ghost to us from the Father. And therefore, we must abide in Him as He abides in us. We must dwell with Him and allow Him to make His abode with us. These are not difficult things, but they are not ordinary, they are extraordinary. The Holy Ghost will teach you all things and bring to remembrance all things that Jesus said. (John 14:26) His task here with us in not small. All things is all things, after all.
So, you might say to me: "Kurt, that's all well and good. I understand that the Holy Ghost is here with me. I know what the Bible says about the Holy Ghost. Every good Christian does." And I, in return, might say to you: "But is it just in your head? Or is it in your heart? Are you truly aware of Him abiding with you, on a spiritual level? Do you feel Him? Do you hear His voice? Does His presence pierce your soul? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are spirit, but it's so easy to see them only in black in white, contained within words on the printed pages of your Bible. Oh, brother (or sister), They are so much more than that. Why can't you see?"
May God bless you and bring you closer to Him, through His Son and His Spirit.
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:28)