Sunday, December 23, 2007

Believing God / Experiencing Love, Light, & Life

As an old man, the Apostle John penned his gospel as one of the last things he would write. I imagine him writing slowly, pausing often to reflect on the significance of all that he had witnessed and experienced in the presence of Jesus and in the outpouring of His Spirit after His ascension.

John would think deeply... prayerfully... and then write slowly. As ink filled the space on his empty parchment, certain ideas began to grow obvious in the theme of his writing. Love, Light, and Life. He would weave them together with such organic, interpenetrating, inspired artistry that merely listing them in such linear fashion might actually detract more than enhance their understanding. Once tasted, as John himself had done, one realizes they are the kind of stuff that cannot be seized but must rather be moved into... deeply... personally.

In his gospel, John remembers Jesus as the life-giving light of the world who was moved by his loving grace to become flesh. He remembered him living among us so that he might end our present death and offer us new birth and life. The reality overwhelmed the aged apostle. Such love... how could people still fail to respond to Jesus as light of the world?

Again and again, John’s returns to this simple and yet profound idea that new life begins with God's loving light. That God's love presents light (truth) which opens the door to true life. A life that pulses and overflows with love perfected.

Throughout, John points to belief as the action of humanity moving us into that love-light-life reality of God. Choosing to risk opening our hearts in faith to Christ's promise of love, light and life for us, inviting him to reveal those things to us as we act on what he says, is what catalyzes our participation in those precious experiences. "I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14:6).

“Do not let your heart be troubled,” Jesus tells His followers in John 14. “Believe in God, believe also in me.” He goes on to say, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me… he who believes in me will do greater works than Me.”

In that movement of believing, Jesus explains the emergence of a new reality, relational knowledge. “From now on you know My Father and have seen Him” (John 14:7). “You know the Spirit of truth because He abides with and will be in you” (v.17). “Because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know Me in My Father and you in Me and I in you” (v.20).

Finally, through this knowledge, John explains that the original intent of divine love, the perfection of life-giving love, is finally accomplished. “He who loves Me will be loved by my father and I will love him and will disclose myself to him” (vs.21). “Abide in my and my words in you… Just as the Father as loved me I have also loved you. Abide in my love… These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:7-12).

The Love-Light-Life of God is the promise. The practice of Believing unto relationally Knowing Jesus - is the path that takes us there.

What strikes me personally about this is the idea of belief as movement. An action taking us into God's life-giving reality. It is not a feeling or even an inner-conviction... things which perhaps belong more to the relational knowledge experience belief leads to. Rather, belief is the simple step-by-step motion that closes the gap between us and the life God longs to give us. Conversely, unbelief is the opposing trajectory, the movement away that widens the gap. As motion, belief requires only volitional assent, the sincere "Yes" that moves our legs as well as our lips.

For some reason this one thought has given me great pause this morning.
Merry Christmas, everyone!

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